Council lays rocky path to a bike lane on Legare Bridge

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Space could soon tighten up on the Legare Bridge, going from West Ashley into Charleston.

For years, the Charleston City Council has considered a plan to add a bike-pedestrian lane, similar to what's on the Ravenel Bridge.

"Our leadership is in support of this. We are an organization that promotes healthy lifestyles," said Susan Johnson, MUSC's director of health promotion.

Johnson said her colleagues would ease commuter traffic, as more than 500 of MUSC's 4,000 employees said they would bike across the Ashley River to work, if they could.

"There's a potential here of this reducing vehicular traffic and making it easier to travel the bridge," said Mayor Joe Riley.

Under the proposal, the bridge would be reduced to three lanes but an extra lane would be added at the end to relieve traffic going in to downtown.

County funds would pay for the project.

"This is the best, attainable, cheap solution to long-term complicated problems," said City Councilman Mike Seekings.

City Councilman Bill Moody disagreed. He said the S.C. Department of Transportation has already told the council that Charleston's population will outgrow three lanes by 2020. He said he would vote against the measure.

"Let's find a better and permanent solution, whether it's the James Island Connector, whether it's building a new bridge instead of the Legare Bridge," said Moody.

But for Seekings, the present mattered most.

"Is this the ultimate solution 25 years in to the future? In terms of structure, no. But in terms of what we're doing and what we're going to say by doing this project, absolutely," he said.

The change would slow traffic by four seconds for commuters coming from St. Andrews Boulevard, six seconds for those using Savannah Highway and eight to 13 seconds for those coming from Folly Road, said Riley, citing a traffic engineer study.

The City Council's Transportation Committee will meet Tuesday at 3 p.m. to discuss the measure. The meeting is open to the public. Officials expect council members to vote on the measure at its meetings that starts at 5 p.m. The public will be able to comment at the beginning of the council meeting.