Saturday, April 28, 2007

The "New and Improved" Cooper River Bridge

This post is almost two years overdue, but as I just started this blog yesterday, I'm going to go with the old "better late than never." I hate the new Cooper River bridge. Yes, it is awe-inspiring and somewhat beautiful, and it even has it's own website As it states on its website:
We built North America's longest cable stay span to replace the original truss bridges connecting the City of Charleston and the Town of Mount Pleasant along Highway 17.
Well, bully for you. You also demolished what some, including myself, would consider historical landmarks, and THE must-see attraction for those considering suicide. I wonder about the suicide potential of the new bridge. Maybe it's just as good; I don't know, I haven't had the opportunity to drive over it. But as anyone who has ever driven over the old Old Cooper River Bridge (not a typo - until this current new bridge, the two Cooper River Bridges were referred to by locals as the "Old Cooper River Bridge" and the "New Cooper River Bridge") knows, it was built for suicides. As a matter of fact, every time you drove over it, you hoped you wouldn't accidentally commit suicide by driving over the edge. But you had to use it when driving from Mt. Pleasant to Charleston, because the old New Cooper River Bridge would deposit you in a not-so-savory area of town.

Anyway, it just so happened that I was traveling home to Charleston from my current residence in PA, when I came upon the new bridge (the actual current new one, not the old new one). Since I hadn't been home in several years and had no idea that a new bridge was even being considered, it was a literally jaw-dropping moment. I actually pulled over to the side of the road and just stared at it. Then, with tears in my eyes, I took my last drive over the old Old Cooper River Bridge. Lesson learned: Unless you really do want to kill yourself, don't drive over the old Old Cooper River Bridge with tears in your eyes. Moot point now, though.

By unbelieveable coincidence, the new bridge opening ceremony occurred the weekend following my arrival. I watched it on TV, and it was quite the event. It has been dubbed the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, and while I like Arthur Ravenel, Jr., I hate his bridge. I haven't been back to Charleston since that visit, but I am planning a trip this summer. I know I will miss the white-knuckled hunched-over-the-steering-wheel brand of abject terror that the old bridge inspired. The new bridge may be bigger and better to some, but it will never truly replace the old bridges in the hearts and minds of Charlestonians.