By Warren Cobb
Managing Editor

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bike lane ashley river legare bridgeAfter millions of dollars of research and a good amount of wrangling between City of Charleston officials and the S.C. Department of Transportation, the SCDOT has signed off on closing the western-most lane of the southbound side of the Ashley River Bridge to create a dedicated lane for cyclists and pedestrians.

Last week, Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor, and Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley received a response from the state Secretary of Transportation Robert St. Onge concerning SCDOT's review of the feasibility study to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians on the Ashley River Bridge (also known as the T. Allen Legare Bridge).

Onge says the SCDOT accepts the conclusions of the Charleston County-funded feasibility study, and one travel lane can be successfully converted into a bicycle and pedestrian travel lane. St. Onge's letter stated that the SCDOT will allocate staff resources to work with both the City and the County to finalize the study's recommendations.

This was delightful news to cycling advocate Charleston Moves. "We're gratified that Secretary St. Onge and SCDOT has chosen to accept the finding that using one lane on the old Legare Bridge for self-propelled folks will work without significantly hurting car traffic," said Tom Bradford, president of Charleston Moves. "Bicycling and walking are a big deal no matter whether you think of them in terms of recreation or something more serious, like commuting to and from work. Every trip not taken in a car is a trip that promotes personal health, retards pollution, and advances community wellbeing.

People are already choosing to live along the West Ashley Greenway because they're banking on this crossing. All of West Ashley, and for that matter, all of Charleston, will benefit in many ways from this great decision."

Spokespeople for the two local agencies say the County and the City remain committed to working side-by-side with the SCDOT to complete the engineering drawings to move the plan forward. "SCDOT's positive response is a substantial step forward in creating a bicycle and pedestrian lane for the Ashley River Bridge," said Mayor Riley.

County and City staff, along with the SCDOT, will meet in January to begin finalizing the design. The project, is being completed by Charleston County at the request of the City of Charleston, and is being funded by the Charleston County Transportation Sales Tax.