Wednesday, July 23, 2014
“I believe we fought the good fight.” – Gawrych
Really? I did not know we were fighting. What we have here is a clear and apparently deliberate miscommunication and fleecing of everyone’s tax dollars to benefit a few. This is the problem at federal, state and local levels. I wrote a letter that was published in your newspaper several years ago. The facts remain and are now updated.
The “essential” bridge for the demand is 35 feet. The current bridge is broken with a lower span and is functioning fine for 99 percent of the taxpayers. Surveys, what surveys? Who said they needed higher clearance and for what reason? We will never know.
Clearly, politics, greed and likely inside maneuvering is why the 55-foot bridge is an alleged requirement for “reasonable needs of navigation.” Apparently, we have been poorly unable to navigate since the current bridge was built. SCDOT would rather focus on killer trees on I-26, and gosh knows what the Coast Guard knows 12 miles up the Wando, indifferent to what a 35-foot bridge gives you, versus what is unnavigatable at 55 feet. Fair question, no answer.
Unquestionably, a new bridge for the road traffic is needed. I don’t disagree some needs are needed for the bikers (I am not one, but definitely a needed safety issue). But what does 20 additional feet give you? Added height for luxury crafts? Special interest? More “nice to have” requirements versus truly essential? Likely yes to all.
Here is another item, if anyone checked – we have several special interest docks built above the Wando that are indeed dangers in navigation and boating since they extend halfway across the Wando. Where was Coast Guard or Corp of Engineering in this approval? Don’t give me “navigational concerns” when my common sense tells me otherwise. Meanwhile, as we apparently “fought” the issue, we have been without for many years, at higher cost and lost opportunity.
When will elected officials see a fight when common sense and budgets for all should win out. This has been a mostly hidden non-negotiation with no criteria or compromise for all of us.
Shame. Shame on this paper, shame on council people, and us voters, well... who cares about the darn taxpayers as we continue to pay for things a normal person sees as luxuries, over-specification versus the real essential need.
I can’t wait for normal, common sense to run against this type of waste (or corruption at its worst). I would think we would DEMAND transparency, ANSWERS to simple questions, and LESS backroom, secret discussions. Let me be the first to recommend the name of the bridge. SCDOT-CG Follies.
Why in the world are they building a 55-foot fixed-span bridge over the upper Wando River where such height is obviously not needed?
No commercial water traffic, and yet they built a 25-foot, ancient design swing bridge over the inland waterway at Ben Sawyer Boulevard, the main north-south commercial water route linking the entire East Coast of the United States?
Don’t you think there’s a huge, stinking political rat in that deal?
A. Elliott Barrow, Jr.
I am writing to thank (Sully Witte) and the Moultrie News for the coverage last week on the Highway 41 bridge. As many of your readers now know, the 10-year debate to keep the bridge from exceeding 35 feet in height has come to an end.
I did want to let you and all of your readers know that the Town of Mount Pleasant was not alone in our efforts to keep the bridge height low; however, the final say came from the U.S. Coast Guard.
While the Town of Mount Pleasant began the process back in 2004, we quickly learned due to all of the agencies that would become involved and the fact that the actual physical location of the bridge was in two counties, we needed to build consensus and form a team that would give us the best opportunity for a lower bridge. Aside from the overwhelming support of so many citizens, we were able to get the support of the Berkeley County Council, Charleston County Council, the City of Charleston, Charleston Moves, as well as our local State Senator Larry Grooms.
After pursuing several options on the bridge from a bascule (draw) bridge to a fixed-span not exceeding 35 feet, we were given clear directions by SCDOT that the final say-so would come from the U.S. Coast Guard in the form of issuing a permit. This lead us to reach out to both of our U.S. Senators and Congressman Mark Sanford. We did receive positive support from both Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham’s offices, but it was the leading efforts of Congressman Sanford that put us in a positon whereby the U.S. Coast Guard allowed one more survey of boat-height needs below and above the river. During this period we even garnered support from the editors of the Post and Courier as several editorials were written. It was a true collaborative effort by many to say the least.
In the end, the federal government via the U.S. Coast Guard handed down the directive of a bridge height to be at least 55 feet in height based on the most recent survey.
This directive is the law of the land as we all know and as I had stated before, we fought the good fight. We did not fight it alone, however, and I want to take this opportunity one more time to thank everyone for all of their efforts, some as far back as 2004.
We will soon see the new bridge rising over the beautiful Wando River and we will make the best of the new connection for two counties and two cities.
I have no regrets, but everytime I traverse the Westmoreland Bridge (526) over the Ashley River in the future, which is a bridge that is less than 40 feet, I will know I am riding on a bridge over a river that, like the Wando, ends a few miles up the river and I will think, what if.
Paul S. Gawrych