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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
US-17 Cooper River Crossing At Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

• Bridge: Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
• Structure ID: Unknown
• City: Charleston
• State: South Carolina
• Country: USA
• Carries: US-17
• Crosses: Cooper River
• Date Opened: July 16, 2005
• Total Length: 13,200 Feet
• Longest Span: 1,546 Feet
• Tower Height: 572.5 Feet
• Deck Width: 126 Feet
• Number Of Lanes: 8
• Number Of Spans: 1
• Height Above Water: 186 Feet
• Traffic Count: Unknown
When it opened in 2005, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge across the Cooper River in Charleston claimed to be the longest cable stayed bridge in the Americas. There is no doubt that this is one huge bridge. The overall length is huge, the main span is huge, the height above water is huge, the towers are huge, and the width of the deck is huge. But in only one category is this the largest bridge in the US or the Americas, and that is the tower height. It is only when you consider all five statistics at once does the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge rise to the top of the pile.

The signature feature of the bridge is the diamond-shaped towers. They rise 572.5 feet above the average water height. The roadway is suspended between the legs of the tower. At no point is the roadway actually connected to the towers, rather, the deck is fully supported by the stay cables.

The first bridge over the Cooper River opened in 1929. It was a narrow 2 lane toll bridge. A second span was put up in 1966. By the 1980's, traffic had overwhelmed both bridges, and the older bridge was falling apart. The advent of the larger container ships sealed the fate of the older bridges since they were too low for the new Panamax boats. A new bridge would be needed that had a wider span and higher clearance if Charleston was to remain a viable seaport.

Arthur Ravenel Jr was a retired Congressman who ran for state Senate for the sole purpose of getting this bridge funded. While it took a decade longer than planned, the bridge was finally built. In fact, once the bridge was started, it was finished nearly a year ahead of schedule, saving the taxpayers $150-million.


Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

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