Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
The longest cable-stayed bridge in all of America, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is an engineering marvel. It stretches over the Cooper River, from downtown Charleston to the nearby town of Mount Pleasant.
Arthur Ravanel Jr. Bridge
7 min drive
The bridge is over two-and-a-half miles long. It was designed and built by engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, and completed a year ahead of schedule. When the bridge opened on July 16, 2005, it was considered the tallest structure in South Carolina. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is a replacement for the 1920s-era Grace Memorial Bridge and the Pearman Bridge, which was built in the 1960s. The two older bridges’ lanes were too narrow and low to the river to be properly functional.
Though various groups and city government officials tried for years starting in the 1980s to establish funding for a new bridge, it was not until retired U.S. congressman Arthur Ravenel Jr. stepped in that there was enough interest. In 1995, the Grace Memorial Bridge scored a 4 out of 100 on safety measures. This revelation pushed Ravenel to run for South Carolina Senate, where he created the South Carolina Infrastructure Bank and partnered with local and state officials to fully fund the new bridge project.
The bridge itself is designed with two diamond-shaped towers, which hold the structure up with cables. The deck of the bridge rises 186 feet over the river, and the towers are 575 feet above that. It is designed to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes of great magnitudes. The bridge’s eight lanes can support traffic of 100,000 vehicles a day. Because of its high capacity for transportation and sleek design, the bridge has won several awards.
The Ravenel Bridge is a crucial part of the Charleston skyline. It provides locals and visitors alike with the perfect place for a quick jog or leisurely bike ride. Whether day or night, the views from the bridge are magnificent. The bridge has a built-in path for pedestrians and bikers, called Wonders’ Way. The 12-foot-wide pedestrian path is named after Garret Wonders, a US Navy ensign who was training for the 2004 Olympics when he was killed in a bicycle collision with a car. Grassroots organizing efforts by local groups ensured that the footpath would be included in the design of the bridge.
Though the bridge is two-and-a-half miles long, runners, pedestrians, and bikers need not complete the whole five mile round trip. The bridge has a midway point marked about 1.2 miles into the route. However, no matter how long your Ravenel Bridge adventure is, you are sure to enjoy its sweeping vistas.
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge’s most prominent event is the Cooper River Bridge Run, held every year on the first weekend of April. Thousands of people arrive in Charleston for the 10km race.
Whether you’re in the mood for an invigorating jog or a slow stroll, Arthur Ravenel Jr. is the perfect place to go. This bridge is one of Charleston’s absolute must-visits, as an iconic part of the city.