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How will the proposed Cape Fear Skyway compare with the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston?

Ken Little

There would likely be similarities between the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spanning the Cooper River in Charleston, S.C., and the proposed bridge that would cross the Cape Fear River as part of the Cape Fear Skyway.

“As envisioned today, there would be two lanes in each direction and it may have a pedestrian component like the Ravenel Bridge,” said Steve DeWitt, chief engineer of the N.C. Turnpike Authority. The South Carolina bridge has eight lanes.

The Cape Fear Skyway bridge would be about 160 feet from the high mean water level to the bottom of the bridge deck span, compared to about 186 feet for the Ravenel Bridge, DeWitt said.

The distance between the supports of the Skyway bridge would be dictated by shipping requirements governing channel width and be about 1,200 feet, about the same as the South Carolina bridge, he said.

The Cooper River span, which opened in 2005, connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. It is a cable-stayed bridge, which allows for a wide channel span and is more economical than other designs.

“The Skyway would likely be a similar design if the bridge gets built,” DeWitt said.

The Ravenel Bridge cost about $500 million to build, with a similar amount spent on roadway work to the bridge approaches, DeWitt said. That approximates the projected $1 billion cost of the Cape Fear Skyway.

“For the bridge itself and the approaches, that would be in the same, give-or-take $500 million range,” DeWitt said.

“The bottom line is this bridge would be very similar to the Cooper River bridge in terms of scope and size,” he said. “The Cape Fear Skyway has a ways to go before it becomes a reality. The bridge hasn’t been designed.”

Related links:

N.C. Turnpike Authority comparisons of the Skyway and existing bridges

What is the route of the proposed Cape Fear Skyway bridge?

StarNews topic page about the Cape Fear Skyway project

What is the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge?

Before the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge was constructed, how did travelers cross the Cape Fear River into Wilmington?

User-contributed question by:
Henry D

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5 Responses to “ How will the proposed Cape Fear Skyway compare with the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston?”

  1. On November 21, 2010 at 5:00 am bob wrote:

    The difference clearly simple one is free and the the other has a toll do the math

  2. On November 24, 2010 at 11:12 am Josh wrote:

    The difference is also that the Skyway bridge is also at least $1.9B, but the Starnews always refers to it as ‘about $1B.’

    Way to go, watchdogs.

  3. On November 29, 2010 at 11:43 am Pat Batleman wrote:

    With all due respect to Mr. DeWitt, this response leaves out some very important comparisons. First of all, the Cooper River Bridge is 8 lanes to the Skyway’s 4. Next, where are the comparisons to the population of Charleston to Wilmington? Next, where are the comparisons to the traffic counts of Charleston and Wilmington? Where is the comparison between the size and activity of the Port of Charleston to the Port of Wilmington? And, how about the one very big difference? The Cooper River Bridge has no tolls! The Skyway Bridge cannot be built without tolls and without massive gap funding commitments of $49 million/year for 40 years from the State.

  4. On December 3, 2010 at 11:01 am Mike wrote:

    I do not understand the mentality of building everything in this area with just four lanes. If the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge had been built with more lanes we would not have the traffic tieups we have today and would not need the Skyway or the expansion of the causeway. South Carolina plans ahead with the six lane Highway 31 around Myrtle Beach and the eight lane Cooper River Bridge. Why not plan for future growth with the Skyway if it is built?

  5. On December 11, 2010 at 8:07 am Mike K wrote:

    NOW NOW fellow citizens…simmer down…the ONLY difference in the two that matter—the Ravenel Bridge is built and open to traffic, and the “Skyway” is nothing but paper, it will NEVER be built as planned. Reference my letter to the editor back in 2008…I remind you the all the time and money wasted could have well been spent on a smaller high rise version. Now all we have in the immeadiate future is gridlock. Thanks Raleigh!!!

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