Cooper River Bridge

Cooper River Bridge

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The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the New Cooper River Bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The eight lane bridge satisfied the capacity of U.S. Route 17 when it opened in 2005 to replace two obsolete cantilever truss bridges. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m), the second longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere.

The bridge superstructure is designed to withstand shipping accidents and the natural disasters that have plagued Charleston’s history. The span is designed to endure wind gusts in excess of 300 mph (480 km/h), far stronger than those of the worst storm in Charleston's history, Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Engineers also had to be mindful of the 1886 earthquake that nearly leveled Charleston. The Charleston SC Bridge is designed to withstand an earthquake to approximately 7.4 on the Richter scale without total failure. To protect the bridge from uncontrolled ships, the towers are flanked by one-acre rock islands. Any ship will run aground on the islands before it can collide with the towers.

The bridge is a truly beautiful landmark and has some of the most awesome views of Charleston and the Cooper river, especially in the evening when everything is lit up. The bridge includes a shared bicycle-pedestrian path named Wonders' Way in memory of Garrett Wonders. Wonders was a navy ensign stationed in Charleston and was in training for the 2004 Olympics before he died in a bicycle-vehicle collision. Parking is offered on either side of the bridge, and you should allow about an hour and a half to two hours to walk all the way across and back. If you decide to bike across, then you might consider parking at the Maritime Center on the Charleston side and then riding across the bridge to the Patriots Point Memorial Waterfront Park. You can then take the Water Taxi from Patriots Point back over the river to the Maritime Center.

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