Ravenel Bridge – Charleston, South Carolina

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The Arthur Ravenel Bridge opened during a week-long celebration in July 2005. This eight-lane, cable-stayed bridge with two diamond-shaped towers allows clearance for modern ocean freighters to access the Port of Charleston.


Mark VanDyke of Herndon, VA, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Its predecessors, the historic Grace Bridge and the Pearman Bridge, were a beloved part of the Charleston skyline for almost 80 years. Over time, however, they became obsolete and unsafe for travelers. Charleston politician Arthur Ravenel spearheaded the campaign for a new bridge to be constructed over the Cooper River, replacing the old bridge. The new bridge provides more than traffic relief to residents – it also has a bike and pedestrian lane, and the world-famous Cooper River Bridge Run is held here every year.

New Cooper River Bridge

Dave Allen of Hendersonville, NC © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ravenel Bridge Cooper River

Jon Snyder of Surfside Beach, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Cooper River Bridge in Black and White

Jacob Kupferman of Mt. Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Lightening Strikes Ravenel Bridge

Jacob Kupferman of Mt. Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Arthur Ravenel Bridge

Andy Hunter of Denmark, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ravenel Bridge Waterfront Park

Linda Brown of Kingstree, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Under Ravenel Bridge

Gina Cordoba of Mt. Pleasant, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Ravenel Bridge Charleston SC

Megan Pearson of Edgefield, 2010 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Cooper River Bridge at Dusk

Jacob Kupferman of Mt. Pleasant © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Cooper River

Steven Faucette of Williamston © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Charleston Harbor Sailing

Nancy Lewis of Boiling Springs © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Author Ravenel Bridge at Night

Marcus Reinkensmeyer of Scottsdale, AZ © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Grace and Pearman Bridges – A Brief History

The Grace Memorial Bridge was known fondly (and also somewhat fearfully) by locals as the “Old Bridge.” Its two narrow lanes (10 feet each with no curbs or median) opened for traffic on August 8, 1929, as a toll bridge costing 50 cents per trip. This toll was used to pay for the bridge’s $6 million price tag; it was owned and operated by a private company named Cooper River Bridge, Inc. The president of this company, Charleston native John P. Grace, later served as its namesake.

Cooper River Bridge Sunset

Michael Capewell of Mt Pleasant, 2005 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Prior to 1929, people needing to travel between Charleston and Mount Pleasant did so by private boat or ferry. The bridge actually crosses two bodies of water – the Cooper River and Town Creek. In all, its length measures 2.71 miles; it is 15 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. At the time of its construction, it was the largest bridge of its kind in the world.

27 years later, in 1946, the state of South Carolina purchased the bridge and eliminated its toll. As it happened, a 10,000-ton freighter named “Nicaragua Victory” rammed into the bridge that same year. It ripped out a 240-foot section, causing Elmer Lawson and his family to fall into the water below.

Another bridge was built in 1966 alongside the Grace Bridge, and it was named for then Highway Director Silas N. Pearman. Most people, of course, knew it simply as the “New Bridge.”

Building the Ravenel Bridge

Project plan, construction details – PDF
Overview of major players – includes links to architects, contractors, etc
Contract awarded to Palmetto Bridge Constructors
Path to construction history – chronicles sources of contention between the various government bodies

Reflections on the Ravenel Bridge

Contributor Jon Snyder shares about capturing his photo, “I drove 1.5 hours from Myrtle Beach to get a shot of the full moon setting over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC. I had it all planned out! The moon was supposed to set about 35-45 minutes before sunrise. I just knew there would be some great color with the partly cloudy forecast. What I did NOT plan for was fog! The low-lying fog was so thick, I could not see the bridge from my planned spot. I was pretty upset. I had arrived early (as you always should) and needed to head to a nearby store to grab a snack. I took a wrong turn and ended up going over the bridge. To my surprise, the fog cleared as I ascended the bridge. I ended up Shooting ON the bridge, and my moon shots were no where near my expectation. But when the moon set…Heaven opened up behind me with predawn color blazing the sky! The low-lying fog made it feel as if the bridge was floating in the clouds! After a few snaps…I got this masterpiece that I’m sure will be one of my best shots this year!”

Linda Brown says of her above photo, “I particularly liked this shot of the Ravenel Bridge taken from Waterfront Park because of the streams of water shooting out of the boat as it passed under the bridge.”

Add your own reflections here.

Ravenel Bridge Info

Address: US 17 between Charleston and Mount Pleasant, SC

Ravenel Bridge Map

Ravenel Bridge – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Ravenel Bridge, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

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7 Comments about Ravenel Bridge

SCIWAYNo Gravatar says:
March 4th, 2015 at 9:59 am

The bridge was built by Palmetto Bridge Constructors, Inc., a design-build firm, with Parsons Brinckerhoff of NYC as a design partner and with consulting by MacDonald Architects of San Francisco. Other details are as follows, according to Associated General Contractors: Eight 12-ft-wide traffic lanes; 1,546-ft main span; 5 75-ft-tall towers; road deck rises 200 ft above the median high-tide mark; 128 individual bridge cables; cables formed by 90 seven-wire strand, each cable holds more than 1 million lbs.; white pipes range in diameter from 12 to 20 in.; 12-ft bicycle and pedestrian lane; 300,000 cu yd of concrete; 50,000 tons of reinforcing steel; 40,000 tons of structural steel; more than 400 drilled shafts .

dfghjNo Gravatar says:
March 3rd, 2015 at 1:21 pm

How long did it take to build? Total steel and wire weight? Total concrete weight? Bridge type? Engineer?

Kathy RobertsonNo Gravatar says:
April 12th, 2014 at 8:35 pm

My family and I lived in Charleston from 1959 through 1963. There was just one bridge then. It was kind of scary.
The new bridge is beautiful. I have never been across it and I am not sure if I want to.

Mark VanDykeNo Gravatar says:
December 16th, 2013 at 11:44 am

Hey John,

That’s awesome that you were part of the construction crew that built the bridge! I worked in healthcare construction for a number of years and understand the experience of building something that will be with a community for many years. If you’re interested in purchasing a photograph of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge I have several in my gallery at Fine Art America: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/mark-vandyke.html. The site includes a 30-day money-back guarantee on all purchases. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

JohnNo Gravatar says:
September 11th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Where can I get picture hanging for my wall of the Ravenel Bridge? I was a construction worker on the bridge. Needless to say, it was quite an experience.

Lydia PappasNo Gravatar says:
October 16th, 2012 at 10:15 am

Wonderful pictures of the new bridge and nice to see the links to video and pictures of the old bridge as well – glad to see this up here, showing the history of the area, old and new!

JennyNo Gravatar says:
April 3rd, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I just love these pictures of this bridge — very beautiful!


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