Ashley River Bridge bike lane still postponed
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston police officers escorted Mayor Tecklenburg and a few city council members over the Ashley River Bridge this morning, as they rode bicycles alongside a crowd of followers. It was all part of National Bike to Work Day.
Katie Zimmerman was a part of that crowd. She has been biking to work for more than ten years. She is now the executive director of Charleston Moves, a non-profit devoted to improving bicycle and pedestrian conditions in the county.
"It is the most freeing experience," Zimmerman said, regarding her daily biking trips. "It is vital if we're going to be able to solve congestion issues, address environmental issues and health issues. All of those things can be addressed by reducing the number of car trips we take."
Improvement projects about bicycle and pedestrian lanes are constantly being discussed.
"Intersection improvements all over the county, being able to connect neighborhood to neighborhood," Zimmerman explained. "We have at least 7 plans that cover the expansion of Charleston County completed or in the works."
But there's one specific plan that sticks out.
"Convert one lane for bicycle and pedestrians on the Ashley River Bridge, the Legare Bridge, going to downtown to West Ashley has been in the works," Zimmerman said.
"That's been going on since I've been on the city council, seven years," Charleston City councilman Michael Seekings said. He is a bicyclist, himself, and wants a biking and walking lane on the Ashley River Bridge. "Although it's only about a quarter mile long, it's a commitment by the city to connect the city, connect neighborhoods, to allow people to get across the river in something other than a car. Since I was a kid- I can't remember a time when I didn't bike."
After a Freedom of Information Act study, Charleston Moves reports people around Charleston support this improvement project 10 to 1. More than 800 residents wrote in letters in support of the Ashley River improvement project. Only around 80 people wrote in opposed to the plan.
"City Council has voted three times to have that project implemented and we want to see that happen," Seekings said.
"It's time to heed the wishes of the city and the constituents," Zimmerman said.
The Ashley River improvement project now lies in the hands of Charleston County government.
Charleston County PIO Shawn Smetana released a response that reads:
"Charleston County continues to work with the SCDOT and the City of Charleston to determine steps moving forward with the Ashley River Bike and Pedestrian Lane project. Under the Intergovernmental Agreement between SCDOT, City and County, SCDOT can request to remove the project at the cost of Charleston County. Therefore, the three parties have agreed to update the traffic study completed in 2015 with the results of the lane close test to help better predict traffic conditions in the future. This will help the County, City and SCDOT make a more informed decision, and better determine that the project is a wise investment of taxpayer funds. The County expects the results of this update to be available later this spring."
"Everybody is waiting, ready," Zimmerman said. "It's a gateway from West Ashley to the peninsula."