'Bridge the Ashley' calls for bike lane completion by end of 2016

'Bridge the Ashley' calls for bike lane completion by end of 2016
Published: Apr. 12, 2016 at 1:47 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2016 at 6:51 PM EDT
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Source: Live 5 news
Source: Live 5 news

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Hundreds of people gathered at Charleston City Hall Monday evening, eager to see a bicycle and pedestrian lane on the Ashley River Bridge.

"This is not a closure of a lane to cars; rather, it's the opening of a bridge, a connection to people," executive director of Charleston Moves Kurt Cavanaugh. "It's time to bridge the Ashley."

The right northbound lane, going into downtown Charleston, on the Ashley River bridge is shut down for a traffic impact study. 
The bicycle and pedestrian lane has been approved by Charleston County and Charleston City council.

They were frustrated with the timeline. They feel Charleston county keeps pushing back the completion date.

"We're asking the county to stick to a firm 2016 timeline for completion, not groundbreaking," Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh organized the rally, hoping Charleston County leaders will hear their concerns.

"Tonight we say enough, enough with excuses," Cavanaugh said. "It's clear the new configuration on the bridge works. There isn't crazy traffic. There's not a 'carmageddon.'"

Charleston city council member Mike Seeking and county council member Colleen Condon stressed their support for the lane.

"It is a start," city council member Seekings said. "It's the first of what will ultimately be many projects to make Charleston completely and fully integrated."

"I joined county council in 2005 and this was first proposed in 2006," county council member Condon said. "40 years is how long the bridge has been open but without a safe access."

That safety is a big concern for Hannah Hollon whose father was hit and killed by a car in 2011, riding his bicycle on the James Island Connector.

"He's not the only reason that I'm here," 23-year-old Hollon said, with tears in her eyes. "I'm also here for the other 41 or so pedestrian fatalities that have happened since then."

Hollon said deaths like her father's should teach lessons.

"He had a very strong roll in all of this," Hollon said.

Still some, frustrated with traffic, said a lane shouldn't be taken away from drivers.

"It's only getting worse," Chase Wood said. "I can't see how they can justify closing a lane of the Ashley River Bridge."

Others say, two wheels over four.

"Stop playing politics with our lives," Cavanaugh said.

The hundreds at the rally also called for Mayor John Tecklenburg to publicly support the bicycle and pedestrian lane over the bridge. Mayor Tecklenburg was not at the rally.

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