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.