CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg called the award of a federal grant for a pedestrian and bike bridge that will connect downtown and West Ashley “a win, win win scenario" for bikers and pedestrians.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the $18 million grant for the bridge Wednesday afternoon.
Tecklenburg recognized Sen. Tim Scott, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Jim Clyburn and Rep. Joe Cunningham for their help in what he called a bipartisan effort to get the grant through.
“This Ashley River crossing will be transformative for the quality of life for our citizens of Charleston, and will fulfill a major, major accomplishment of Plan West Ashley,” he said.
The grant required a match from the city of Charleston and Charleston County. MUSC also contributed money for the project, Tecklenburg said.
Cunningham, who attended the news conference, called the planned bridge a “game changer.”
“Anytime each and every one of us drive over this bridge here, we all get a little bit nervous when we see somebody walking along that sidewalk which is about as wide as a diving board,” he said. “So this is a public safety issue. This is an issue about bringing the community together and this was a missing piece for our city to connect West Ashley to downtown.”
Tecklenburg said when he received the news Wednesday that Charleston had been awarded a grant, he expected to learn that only part of the application would have been approved.
“So when the news came in that we got the entire request, it knocked my socks off, y’all. I was jumping with joy! This project is fully funded,” he said.
The money will be used to construct a new bridge adjacent to the Ashley River Bridge. The new bridge will provide bicycle and pedestrian access as well as a safer travel option for non-motorized commuters and help relieve traffic congestion, a release from Graham’s office states.
The city had previously applied two other times for federal funding for this bridge.
Graham wrote to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in July encouraging the agency to approve the grant.
Tecklenburg issued a statement Wednesday night after news broke of the grant.
“The Ashley River Crossing is a critical addition to our city’s growing mobility infrastructure,” he said. “The standalone structure will provide a safe and convenient crossing for citizens traveling between West Ashley and the peninsula, while protecting existing lanes of traffic. When built, this crossing will help complete a 12-mile stretch of dedicated bicycle and pedestrian pathway that will strengthen the connectivity of our neighborhoods and job centers, support our ongoing West Ashley Revitalization and improve the quality of life for our citizens.”