Changes in Store for Ladys Island Swing Bridge? AICW Statute Mile 536
Ladys Island Swing Bridge has had conflicts between road traffic and vessel openings for several years, see /?p=35995. Our thanks to good friend, John Kettlewell, for sending along this article from Sounding’s Trade Only section, prompting several well-said comments. With a closed vertical clearance of 30ft, Ladys Island Bridge crosses the waterway at Statute Mile 536.
See /?p=147653 for a 4/3 response from USCG 7th District.
Coast Guard seeks limits on bridge openings in South Carolina
Posted on March 23rd, 2015
Motorists won’t have to stop as much for openings of a major South Carolina barrier island swing bridge, but operators of large recreational vessels might have to find a new route.
The Coast Guard is planning a trial run in April to limit the number of large boats that pass through the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge in tourist destination Beaufort, S.C.
Known locally as the Woods Bridge, the swing bridge connects downtown Beaufort with Lady’s Island and the outer Sea Islands in Beaufort County. Because of the presence of the Intracoastal Waterway, the bridge is required to open frequently for boat traffic to pass through.
Details of the trial period are pending from officials with the Coast Guard bridge division in Miami. However, local officials believe it will include restrictions on the hours when non-commercial vessels can pass through.
`If it’s a commercial vessel, it’s one thing, but if it’s a pleasure boat, it’s another,’ city interim manager Bill Prokop told The Beaufort Gazette.
Log-book records show that the swing bridge opened nearly 4,000 times during a two-year period, with 660 of those for commercial boats.
In October, Beaufort County and Beaufort city officials sent a letter to the Coast Guard bridge branch requesting a change in when and why the bridge opens, county engineering director Rob McFee said. The vehicle traffic delays cause an estimated $2 million loss annually for the community because of lost time and other economic factors, the letter said.
County and city officials requested restrictions on the passage of non-commercial boats during daytime rush hours.
`Not only do the drawbridge openings affect daily traffic and local economics, it also has a dramatic effort on emergency response. A revision in the opening schedule could potentially resolve many of the resulting daily impacts,’ the letter stated, according to the paper.
I’m a resident of Lady’s Island and an active cruising boater. The issue involving the proposed limiting of the Woods Bridge to two waterway openings during the day is ludicrous. Much of the issue involving increased auto traffic out onto Lady’s Island is brought about by allowing the building of big box stores out on the Island. The cost to build a road over a bridge is very high, so why do we encourage increased traffic loads on our bridges by bringing people from the mainland to an Island to shop?
The Woods Bridge is already on a restricted opening schedule during rush hours and on the hour and half hour during the rest of the day. Many sailboats typically spend a night in Beaufort. It’s a two day run for them from Charleston, and a full day run from Savannah, so they arrive late afternoon and leave early morning, and need the bridge opened so they can head north or arrive going south. If they miss these two opening times, they are screwed!
Let’s be good county/city planners, and keep the big box stores off the Island and keep the auto traffic down so we can keep the AICW functional.
Consultant, Marine and Industrial Lifting Systems
We are active boaters who depend on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (A-ICW) for safe travel north and south each spring and fall. We have recently become aware of a proposal requested by the City of Beaufort, SC, which would limit the opening schedule of the Woods Bridge (Lady’s Island Bridge) in Beaufort, SC, to just two openings during the business day. This letter is based on my understanding that the City of Beaufort has proposed a schedule of openings at 10h00 and 14h00 daily, so essentially, every four hours.
For the USCG Bridge Branch, allowing such a schedule is not consistent with the public interest and would be a violation of the public trust and public responsibility. It would also be a seriously negative precedent for the United States’ network of Federal Intracoastal Waterways.
For the City of Beaufort, it demonstrates an utter disregard for the needs, safety and wellbeing of ICW users. It is irresponsible of the City of Beaufort to propose such restrictive conditions on top of already severe restrictions. Whatever happened to the City’s promise years ago to return to a 1/2 hours opening schedule after the completion of the second span of the south bridge?
Improperly planned over-deveopment on Lady’s Island is not justification to confiscate access to the public trust waterways of the United States. The dual bridges at the south end of Lady’s Island provide access for emergency responders. The second span was justified in part based upon just that access. If emergency response capability on Lady’s Island is inadequate, that is the fault of inadequate city and county planning, not the fault of waterway users. South Carolina has utterly failed to maintain it’s waterways, and many areas near Beaufort have become impassible at low tide in throughout the region. The entire ICW region from the Savannah River in the South through Georgetown in the North has been allowed to shoal and presents a serious hazard to navigation interests at low tide. Being confined by daily waterway closures in Beaufort affects the safe transit of boaters through the entire 200 mile region.
Having to deal with the natural tide cycle against an artificial schedule of man-made waterway closure creates potentially dangerous conditions. The passage of summer thunderstorms does not respect the time-of-day. The proposed confiscatory schedule creates a severe hardship for waterway users. Weather, poor waterway maintenance and short hours of daylight create dangerous conditions for waterway users forced to out-wait lengthy waterway closures.
This proposal is inappropriate and disrespectful of the public trust for federal waterways.
Peg and Jim Healy aboard Sanctuary
Well said Jim. You’re one of the many `regulars’ that use the AICW every spring and fall. If Wal Mart wants to build a store on Lady’s Island, maybe Wal Mart should build a third, high bridge, out to the Island, not create over taxing of the existing bridges such as to further restrict bridge openings.
Hope to see you as you pass through Beaufort in a few weeks.
Consultant, Marine and Industrial Lifting Systems