electrical bike Editorial: Interact public in plan for Ashley River bike-ped bridge | Editorials
Nearly a 12 months after the town of Charleston was shocked to study it had obtained an $18.1 million federal grant to construct a brand new bike and pedestrian bridge over the Ashley River, the town lastly has taken the following large step.
There are extra large steps to return, and people must be taken with extra transparency — and public enter, notably so far as its design — to make sure the venture is nearly as good as it may be.
Metropolis Council voted Tuesday to approve a $2 million cope with HDR Engineering Inc. for design-build contract help. Thankfully, it is a signal of progress. Sadly, an precise design-build contract for the venture, at present projected at $22 million, most likely gained’t be positioned on council members’ desks till someday later subsequent 12 months; September 2021 is the deadline.
The prospect that design work gained’t even start till virtually two years after the grant was introduced is a regrettable if not notably shocking signal of how gradual authorities can work. With federal cash comes federal laws, and the town has been working with each the Federal Freeway Administration and the S.C. Division of Transportation to make sure it’s following all applicable federal guidelines. The deal positioned earlier than council members contains greater than 200 pages.
Even this contract gained’t be awarded till the FHWA sends a letter with its OK and the town has funding that Charleston County has agreed to.
The delay raises a query of whether or not the $22 million can be sufficient, as development costs hardly ever drop, and whether or not a better price ticket — mixed with pandemic-related funds pains — will create additional delay.
The contract not solely is with HDR Engineering — a worldwide engineering and structure agency that labored on the Ravenel Bridge, Berkeley County’s Roper St. Francis Hospital and the Leatherman Terminal — but additionally with 10 different firms that can be subconsultants.
Now we have advocated for the bridge for years, agreeing with supporters that the span would offer a protected path for bicyclists and pedestrians between West Ashley and downtown. The 0.4-mile standalone bridge would hook up with the ten.5-mile West Ashley Greenway and a couple of.5-mile West Ashley Bikeway; it will characterize an enormous step towards the town’s broad purpose of making safer bike and pedestrian routes.
The benefit of a design-build strategy, which the town will use as a substitute of a extra conventional design-bid-build course of, is that sure development work can start earlier than a design is full — because it did with the brand new Arthur Ravenel Bridge greater than a decade in the past. Within the subsequent 12 months, HDR will do aerial mapping, visitors research and environmental research and create a structural design, in response to The Submit and Courier’s Mikaela Porter. A extra detailed schedule is predicted by January, and a public info assembly is about for April.
Katie Zimmerman of Charleston Strikes, the area’s most important bike and pedestrian advocacy group, is glad the venture seems to be on observe for completion inside a number of years however hopes the town can do extra to interact those that are anticipating its completion probably the most. “I believe all people has been feeling ignored to this point,” she says.
For the reason that new bridge may very well be an iconic hyperlink between the town’s historic peninsula and the area the place most of its residents now reside, the method of designing it have to be inclusive and deliberate. Residents ought to have an opportunity to take part earlier than plans go to the town’s Board of Architectural Evaluate for approval.
The bridge additionally will serve a broader function. Its anticipated recognition will present vital momentum for native leaders to repair the opposite weak hyperlinks within the area’s bike-ped infrastructure, together with protected passages close to the North Bridge, James Island connector and Wappoo Reduce.