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How was Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge financed?

Ken Little

A ship passes under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston. South Carolina Ports Authority photo.

Q. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge connecting Charleston, S.C. and the mainland was completed in 2005 and contains eight lanes and a pedestrian-bicycle path. How was this bridge financed? Perhaps, Wilmington can learn something to replace the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

A. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spanning the Cooper River cost $632 million to build. The cost of constructing the 3.5-mile bridge was the largest single transportation infrastructure project ever completed by the South Carolina Department of Transportation, according to The Associated General Contractors of America.

The bridge cost 2.5 times the SCDOT’s annual statewide construction budget as of 2005, according to the AGCA (www.agc.org).

At the beginning of the job, when the state was ready to proceed with bids, it did not have all of the funds to complete the structure, according to Constructor, the AGCA magazine.

Initial plans called for only four lanes, but enough money was raised during construction to build an eight-lane bridge, Bobby Clair, former SCDOT director of engineering and special projects, told the magazine in 2005.

The state was able to complete the ambitious project with the help of a $325 million grant from the South Carolina Infrastructure Bank, established in the late 1990s.

The bridge’s namesake, former state Sen. Arthur Ravenel, spearheaded campaigns to create the bank and build the bridge.

“At the last minute, the state secured a 25-year federal loan for an additional $215 million, allowing it to proceed with all eight lanes, ramps, a frontage road and bike and pedestrian lanes,” according to the magazine.

The first foundation work for the bridge, which connects Charleston and Mt. Pleasant along U.S. Highway 17, began in April 2002. The grand opening for the bridge was in July 2005.


How often do both bridges connecting Wilmington and Leland shut down at the same time?

How does DOT plan to handle traffic when the bridges over the Brunswick River are replaced?




User-contributed question by:
Ron Stack

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