Thursday, July 14, 2005
Pretty exciting stuff!
I just watched the fireworks show on tv for the opening of the new Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. It is replacing the two old Cooper River Bridges that were far beyond safe years and years ago. It was pretty spectacular...supposedly the biggest firework show in this part of the country, ever. It went on for half an hour, and right when it ended, down came the rain! I would have loved to be there. It would have been SO COOL to see in person. However, we just got to Charleston at about 5:30, and supposedly people were lining up at 8 am this morning to find a spot! CRAZY! There won't even be any festivities until Saturday, when they officially open it and let people drive across it. So they just waited around all day....yeah, tv will be fine!

The old bridges...The smaller, older one is the Grace Memorial Bridge, and the larger, newer one is the Silas Pearman Bridge.
The brand new Arthur Ravenel Bridge! Note the old ones in the background.

The old bridges will be torn down, due to the fact that they are not up to code, and large ships can barely fit underneath them. It seems so sad to think that the bridges will be gone soon, having been around for so long.

Here's a little bit of history, for anyone who's interested. It's a little long, but quick and interesting reading:

The need for a crossing of the Cooper River and Town Creek had been longstanding. The issue was how it should be done, and who would finance it. The solution came in 1928 when the dream of Charlestonian John P. Grace and others of building a Cooper River Bridge materialized, with financial backing from H.M. Byllesby and Company of Chicago and its allied financial group.

The 2.71-mile bridge, later to be named the Grace Memorial Bridge, was built in just 17 months, at a total cost of approximately $6 million. It was opened with a three-day celebration on Aug. 8, 1929.

The bridge was designed by Waddell and Hardesty of New York, with Charles Kyes Allen as their resident engineer in charge of construction. The sub-structure was built by the Foundation Company of New York and C. E. Hillyer of Jacksonville, Fla. The superstructure was built by McClintic-Marshall Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Virginia Bridge and Iron Company of Roanoke, Va. The main span of the bridge, 1050 feet between supports, was the fifth longest in the world, 150 feet above the river and 15 feet higher than the Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

The new facility, which was the largest bridge of its type on the world, was operated as a toll bridge by the Cooper River Bridge, Inc. John P. Grace was the company’s president. The toll for crossing the bridge was 50 cents.

In 1946, the state bought the bridge and removed the tolls. That same year, a freighter rammed into it, ripping out a 240-foot section. Three steel girder spans had to be replaced.

In 1959, three spans over Drum Island were widened for emergency parking. In 1965, the fender system for Pier 2 in Town Creek was built, and extensive major repairs were made to Pier 6. The west end of the bridge was widened in 1967 to provide an additional lane of traffic coming off the bridge.

In 1979, due to extensive metal deterioration, an 8-ton axle weight limit was posted on the bridge. In recent years, maintenance and repairs have been a continuing and ongoing problem. Today, partly because of the narrow 10-foot lanes and steep grades, the bridge is considered functionally obsolete.

In ceremonies on April 29, 1966, a new $15 million bridge over the Cooper River, parallel to the Grace Bridge, was opened to traffic, and dedicated in honor of Chief Highway Commissioner Silas N. Pearman.

Actual construction of the two-mile bridge began during 1963, although preliminary work was begun in 1961. The structure was designed by the consulting firm of Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergendoff. The bridge would carry northbound traffic on U.S. 17, while the older structure would carry southbound traffic. The 38-foot roadway of the new bridge would provide for three lanes of moving traffic, one lane of which would be reversible, so that it could be used for southbound traffic if and when there was a need.

The Pearman Bridge had vertical clearances of 150 feet over the Cooper River and 135 feet over Town Creek, and provided adequate horizontal clearances for the passage of the largest watercraft.

This information is courtesy of

If you're still here, I think I'll tell you some stories of mine about the bridge. If you have any, please tell em to me! Have a great day! Talk to you later!
posted by Christi at 10:21 PM | Permalink |


  • At 7:06 AM, Blogger Julia

    I will not be missing the old bridges! I would do anything I could too avoid going over them, especially the Grace Bridge. Richard would find any excuse he could to take them, and then he would pass people. It was scarier than any roller coaster ride! I was complaining about it to Micah and his friend Steven, and I got no sympathy. Steven says his goal is to drive over it as fast as he can because in case a part of the bridge collapsed, maybe his speed would help him fly over the hole.

    I heard they did a study on the safety of the bridge. On a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being the best, this bridge rated 4.

    My bridge story. I was the passenger in Lillian's old Mercedes, the one will the hole in the floorboard, which would have been an excellent place to drop your stash if necessary. Mike and I think Regan were in the back seat. It was very late at night, and there was no traffic on the bridge. Lillian was scared, but I told her to drive down the middle of the two lanes to make her feel better. As we got to the end of the bridge we saw the blue lights. The officer wanted to know if we had been drinking. Surprisingly, every in the car was completely sober. He told her to be more careful and let her off with a warning. We went down to the beach, and headed back the same way. She did the same thing on the bridge, and got pulled again by the EXACT SAME COP! This time he wasn't so sure we were sober, but again we were. Lillian yelled at him for pulling him over. She was like, "What the hell is your problem? There are no other cars, and this bridge scares me. I'm not drinking, I swear to God!" I whispered, "Lillian, don't yell at him!" He had the power to ticket her or worse, and she was yelling at him! Again, he let her off with a warning. I couldn't believe it. There actually was a little stash in the glove compartment, but nobody had used it. It could have been really bad.

    I want to hear your bridge stories now.

  • At 7:42 AM, Blogger Karla

    Ahhh...see look how welcoming the people from South Carolina are! They are building a whole new bridge to make sure its safe when I come to visit you!

    I'm so honoured!

  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger gina

    i hate that bridge (the old one!!) omg it was barely wide enough for a car to securly stay in its own lane. i always took the big bridge on my way to the Mustard Seed!! YUM.
    I must say all the hoopla makes me love columbia even more.

  • At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    -First time commenter-

    We started to go down there last night just for the fireworks, and we're a bit north of Myrtle Beach. It would've been a 2.5 hr drive, but we love Charleston so much, we didn't care. We ended up not going, though, and now I'm glad we didn't.

    Did you hear about the black tie affair they had on the bridge Tuesday night? It was $200 per person and the Charleston symphony played, heavy hors d'ouevres, etc. Can you imagine?! What an experience that would be.

    As far as bridge experiences go...a long time ago, my husband went out on a shrimp boat for a few days with a friend of his who owned some and they got stranded in Mt. Pleasant. He called me to come get him. They were doing some road construction in Mt. Pleasant and the road where I was supposed to turn was barricaded. Next thing I knew, I was headed for the smaller bridge and that thing scared me to death! I was near tears when I got to the end, but I made it. I can't wait to see the new one!


  • At 12:35 PM, Blogger Carrie

    no personal experiences with bridges of S Carolina... but since I live so close.. I feel compelled to come down and drive on it!

    thanks for the history!

  • At 1:09 PM, Blogger Renee

    I have been across that bridge and laid down in the backseat so i didn't have to watch. I hate heights and water...yeah i was WIGGING OUT!!lol

  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Julia

    Karla, you must visit! That would be so awesome!!!

  • At 5:01 PM, Blogger Tammy

    That's for the History lesson. The new bridge looks great.

  • At 5:25 PM, Blogger Wesley

    Well, I lived Downtown and worked at the Captain D's in Mt P. I did not have a working car at the time so I would walk the new bridge home all the way to 211 meeting. I always said that if I can walk on the new one why should I be afraid to drive the old one. I liked the old bridge. My(our)Dad used to drag race on it when it was two lanes. I think it is weird that Charleston has changed so much in the 3 years that we have been gone.

  • At 9:41 PM, Blogger Echo

    I've never been to Charleston, so I don't have a story. I remember seeing a news story (probably from Darci and Jim lol) before I went to VA. Anyhoo, I missed the fireworks. Were they on TV?