by Sam Spence
Last night, Charleston County officials hosted a packed house at the Citadel to discuss the bike and pedestrian lane proposed to run along the southern side of the inbound Ashley River bridge. The path is an effort by the county, with the support of the city, to establish a safe way for non-drivers to get from West Ashley to downtown.
Safe passage onto the peninsula from the south has been a point of contention for years, and still is, but the wheels are in motion to begin initial work on creating a separated shared path as soon as October.
In the current design, someone traveling on foot or by bike from West Ashley would navigate from the Folly Road entry to the inbound bridge to find the entrance to the shared path. Traveling inside the pathway, protected from traffic by concrete and metal barriers, they would proceed across the bridge toward Lockwood Drive. At that intersection, they would then travel across the merge lane using a system of crosswalks and other pathways to distribute pedestrians across the peninsula.
A rendering published by the county yesterday gives you an idea of what to expect:
If current plans hold to schedule, crews will begin work in October expanding the ramp toward Bee Street and Lockwood Drive. Early next year, barriers be constructed to block one lane on the bridge to gauge the path's impact on rush hour traffic, which peaks between 7-8 a.m. A year from now, if all goes to plan, construction will begin on the path and run through early 2017. (Check out the presentation PDF from the meeting yesterday for some interesting info on traffic flow onto the peninsula.)
Exact costs aren't yet known, but one engineer estimates the project will run $2-4 million, according to the P&C.