Longest Cable Bridge in U.S. Dedicated
By BRUCE SMITH
The Associated Press
Saturday, July 16, 2005; 8:13 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Hundreds of people filled an eight-lane highway in place of cars and trucks Saturday to dedicate the $632 million Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River, the longest cable-stayed span in North America.
“We have created not only a bridge, but a thing of beauty,” said Arthur Ravenel Jr., the former state senator and U.S. congressman for whom the span is named.
The bridge’s 1,546-foot main span is supported by cables stretching down from the tops of a pair of diamond-shaped, 570-foot-tall towers. Unlike suspension spans such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate, where the deck is suspended beneath two hefty main cables that connect the towers in a lengthy curve, the Ravenel cables extend directly from the towers to the deck.
“It’s a wonderful, beautiful structure,” Ravenel told the crowd of at least 1,500 people.
The eight-lane bridge, which took four years to build, carries U.S. 17 between Charleston and Mount Pleasant, along with pedestrian and bicycle lanes. The main span is about 200 feet above the water and will allow larger cargo ships to enter the port. Construction began four years ago, and the bridge was finished about a year ahead of schedule.
Its main span is 20 feet longer than the Alex Fraser Bridge in Victoria, British Columbia, which had been the longest on the continent.
Former U.S. Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings, who helped get millions in federal money for the bridge, joked that it was “the finest pork I have ever seen.”
The dedication ceremonies capped a week of celebrations. Thursday evening, thousands lined the sides of Charleston Harbor and watched from boats as a huge fireworks display illuminated the bridge. Earlier in the week, a black-tie gala was held on the span, and last weekend tens of thousands of pedestrians walked across the bridge before it opened to traffic.
The bridge replaces two smaller spans that will be removed.
Bobby Clair, the state Department of Transportation engineer who oversaw the bridge project, received a standing ovation from the crowd Saturday.
“It’s been a long journey, but has gone by quickly,” he said. “It’s been a true privilege to work on this great project.”
more at and some construction pix at :