DOT moving ahead with contested Highway 41 bridge

By Stacy

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- Built in 1939, the bridge on Highway 41 that connects Charleston and Berkeley counties now sees drivers whiz by.

"The bridge is in sad condition and it does need to be replaced. We all agree on that," said Marcia Rosenberg, who started a now-defunct group called "Keep it Low" that opposed a 55-foot bridge as a replacement.

Rosenberg lives on the water near the bridge. She kayaks and boats around it. She fought the S.C. Department of Transportation when it said it would build a 55-foot bridge to replace the current one.

The DOT now is moving forward with those plans, despite protests from neighbors.

In her protests, Rosenberg said it would be bad for the environment and lead the way for more development of what she called a treasured area. She asked the DOT to consider a shorter 35-foot bridge.

"There will be increased pollution because the trucks are going to be belching that black smoke out their little stacks as they do that incline," she said.

She said the DOT was receptive to her requests for a shorter bridge. She showed ABCNews4 copies of letters between the DOT and the Coast Guard, where the DOT asked the Coast Guard to approve a 35-foot bridge, instead of the 55-foot bridge.

But Rosenberg said a 35-foot bridge would have required the DOT to do more research and spend more time and money on research.

She didn't believe that was energy the DOT wanted to exert on the already-delayed project.

The current bridge has two lanes and is too narrow for the amount of traffic it sees, according to S.C. DOT's James Law.

"It's obsolete in the way it's built. It's obsolete in the amount of traffic it's able to handle," Law said.

Law said a 35-foot bridge would've been cost prohibitive. He said the DOT would've had to employ someone full time to run a drawbridge.

A 55-foot bridge circumvents that cost, he said.

For Rosenberg, the taller bridge may not mean more noise in her own backyard, but she knew it would change the landscape of her neighborhood.

"We tried our best and we were defeated. We just couldn't get enough interest from the public," Rosenberg said.

DOT officials said they hope to choose a contractor by December and start construction in February.

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