As usual, our strategic partners, Captains Diana and Mark Doyle, founders and owners of On The Water ChartGuides, give us a penetrating insight into the topic of cruising the AICW. In this case, our dynamic cruising duo brings to light the eventual disappearance of low level AICW bridges.
While some may find the demise of these opening spans a bit of a nostalgic experience, I, for one, will be happy to see the last one fall. Over the years, I’ve waited far too long, and worked too hard to say off the fenders at the Wappoo Creek Bridge, south of Charleston, or pulled all my hair out at the old, now long gone, Sunset Beach pontoon bridge. Soon, as Mark and Diana note, all of this will be but a bad memory!
Diana and I went by Skidaway and took this picture for you. And it got us to thinking about the slooooooow demise of low clearance bridges.
Bridge by bridge, as easments and budgets allow, ICW low-clearance bridges are being replaced by high-clearance fixed bridges. For example, two legendary bridge pinch-points, Jordan Lift Bridge and Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge, are now merely landmarks to note on the chart as your boat passes underneath.
The Skidaway Narrows Bascule Bridge (STM 592.4) will be next, with the construction of a new 65-foot bridge scheduled for completion in July 2013. Currently they are working on the substructure, driving pilings, pouring footers and building retaining walls, none of which impacts boat traffic along the ICW.
The next bridge to succumb: the dreaded Dominion Boulevard Bridge (aka Steel Bridge), with a very restricted morning and evening schedule and only 12 feet of vertical clearance.
Recently the Coast Guard Bridge Office approved a proposal to replace it with a 95-foot high-rise fixed bridge.
This means that the days of “oh-dark-thirty” early-morning departures from Hospital Point anchorage to clear the troublesome trio of the Jordan, Gilmerton, and Steel bridges may someday only be a distant memory among veteran ICW cruisers.
Best and see you On the Water,
Captains Mark & Diana Doyle
Even though the demise of the old style bridges is way more â€œconvenientâ€, we canâ€™t help feeling the loss of a part of Americana as the old structures tumble, one by one, into the annals of history. Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge (and its crusty but friendly bridge tender) is especially missed, as is the Titusville (Max Brewer) Swing Bridge. We probably wonâ€™t miss Wappoo Creek as much, but still, after hours and hours of relaxed cruising, one needs a little stimulation to get oneâ€™s blood circulating again, and Elliot Cut/Wappoo Creek never failed to provided the necessary stimuli. Does anybody have any inside information regarding the replacement of the Socastee Swing Bridge?
Capt. Norman Quinn