WEST ASHLEY, SC – Starting this weekend, a northbound lane of the Ashley River Bridge will be shut down so county officials can begin a traffic study.
The traffic study is being done as officials make final preparations for a permanent bike and pedestrian lane on the Ashley River Bridge.
Nancy Whirley lives in West Ashley, but she doesn’t drive to get to her job downtown. “Every day I commute to the College of Charleston from West Ashley. It’s a little over seven miles.”
Whirley says she currently rides her bike across the southbound Ashley River Bridge, on the sidewalk.“I consider it dangerous.”
But since 2007, county officials have been working on a better solution for people like Whirley.
Starting at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, motorists heading from West Ashley into downtown Charleston should prepare for the right northbound lane to be closed, and it’s going to stay closed for the next two months.
Richard Turner is the Pavement Preservation and Project Manager for Charleston County and said, “This is a unique opportunity that lets us test it before we put in the final project,”
The goal of the Ashley River Bridge Retrofit project is to provide bicycle and pedestrian access between West Ashley and the Charleston peninsula. It involves the retrofit of the northbound US 17 Ashley River Bridge to provide a dedicated shared use lane that would represent a major extension of the West Ashley Greenway.
Charleston County, the SCDOT, and the City of Charleston have been working together on a permanent lane for years.
During rush hour commutes, county officials believe having the lane closed will only slow traffic by approximately eight seconds.
Turned explained, “During this test phase people are not going to be actually allowed to walk or bike over it. Biking and pedestrian will be prohibited during the testing phase and it’s simply because we’re only putting out temporary barriers.”
If all goes as planned, the permanent biking and pedestrian lane could be open within a year to a year and a half.
County officials say they do not expect traffic from the Cooper River Bridge Run to interfere with the Ashley River Bridge closure.