'Traffic volume' is driving factor Ravenel off-ramp makes SC's worst bridges list

'Traffic volume' is driving factor Ravenel off-ramp makes SC's worst bridges list
Published: Jun. 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2013 at 10:15 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Towering above the tree line and looming in the distance the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge became a Charleston icon immediately after opening in July of 2005. However no matter it's beauty, the functionality of one of the bridge's off-ramps is now in question.

In their annual list of South Carolina's worst bridges, AAA Carolinas added the Ravenel Bridge off-ramp to Coleman Boulevard to the list in 2013.

The addition brings Charleston County's total of bridges in the top 20 to seven.

"That surprises me," said David Walker of Mt. Pleasant. "That really surprises me being a new bridge."

The off-ramp onto Coleman, much like the Ravenel Bridge itself, is only eight years old. Compared to other bridges that made the list, the off-ramp could be classified as an infant.

"The average age of our bridges is 53 years old," says Lori Jo Simmons, a manager with AAA Carolinas. "This one is not quite as old but the main problem we have is our population is growing by leaps and bounds."

On an average week, Simmons says more than 542,000 cars take the Coleman Blvd. off-ramp into Mt. Pleasant.

Only four other bridges on the top 20 list average more weekly traffic.

"Basically this area is getting more volume of traffic than it was designed to handle," said Simmons. "This area is functionally obsolete. It has more to do with design it may need more widening, more lanes, more shoulder area."

Although a first timer on the Top 20 list, Simmons says the off-ramp isn't in danger of any structural damage.

"Is the bridge deemed unsafe? No," said Simmons. "But there are things we need to pay attention to."

Ramon Duncan, who lives at Patriot's Point says another lane of traffic wouldn't be a terrible idea.

"Probably it would be necessary sometime in the future," said Duncan. "I mean just living right here in the area I hate to have to drive through that construction but if it has to be, it has to be."

The two worst Charleston County bridges on the list are in North Charleston, at the Cosgrove Avenue exit and the Midland Park Road exit on Interstate 26. Both of those bridges are described as "functionally obsolete."

A CSX railroad crossing at Highway 17 in West Ashley also makes the list, as does the Ashley River Bridge and the North Bridge.

No work is scheduled on any of the aforementioned bridges including the off-ramp into Coleman Blvd., according to AAA.

As for the most dangerous bridge in all of the state, it's on I-26 three miles northwest of Columbia, at the C.N. and L. Railroad crossing.

You can read the list here.

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