Ashley River Bridge bike path may soon become reality

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City and County hoping to better connect two communities, West Ashley and Downtown Charleston, by adding a bike path on the Ashley River Bridge.

For exercise or even to get around town, many times two wheels are Stephanie Hunt's transportation of choice, but taking the path across Ashley River Bridge isn't one that she or other area cyclists really enjoy.

"You kind of say a prayer. You ride carefully, slowly, and you just hang on," Hunt said.

Since May, Charleston County Roadwise in partnership with the City of Charleston have been studying whether redesigning Ashley River Bridge northbound to include a bike path would be a possibility without impacting traffic.

"The study came back that it is possible to do. All we need to do now is meet with SCDOT, get their blessing, as well as trying to find funding," Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor said.

Construction plans are still to be determined, but officials know that one of the four traffic lanes would be dedicated to give cyclists or pedestrians safe travel. The mayor says he envisions that the bike path would start near Albemarle Road and a boardwalk would be built to the Ashley River Bridge bike path, heading into the peninsula.

"It will become for many a way to get to work or to visit or to explore, connected with the ten mile West Ashley Greenway and lots of neighborhoods that connect with that," Mayor Joe Riley said.

Even though no exact plans have been made yet, Mayor Riley says safety is the top priority and he will make sure that there is some sort of barrier between with bike path and the cars and trucks traveling the bridge.

At this point there is no estimate of how much retrofitting the bridge to include a bike and pedestrian path will cost, but it is expected to be paid for with county, state, and federal money. The next steps include a meeting with the state transportation department and several public input meetings.

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