Ravenel Bridge – Charleston, South Carolina
South Carolina | SC Picture Project | Charleston County Photos | Ravenel Bridge
The Arthur Ravenel Bridge opened during a week-long celebration in July 2005. It is an eight-lane, cable-stayed bridge with two diamond shaped towers that allow clearance for modern ocean freighters to access the Port of Charleston.
© Kevin Matkoski (2008)
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 bridges.
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.
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.
© Michael Capewell of Mt Pleasant (2005)
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.”
Photos, Videos, and Webcams
Design of Authur Ravenel Jr Bridge
Replacement of the Cooper River Bridges
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