MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – The Ravenel Bridge connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant and many drivers depend on taking that route to get to their destination. But this weekend, the bridge closed several times because of ice falling from the bridge.
“It was shut down today,” Elisabeth Wolfsen, public information officer for the Charleston Police Department, said. “For the second day, after there was some freezing rain; a little bit of which accumulated on the suspension cables. Once the temperatures got over freezing, it caused the top to melt and cause some ice to fall from those suspension cables.”
Officials want to make sure drivers are safe when using the Ravenel Bridge after the recent winter weather.
“We made a decision you couldn’t open it back up,” South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) spokesman James Law said. “You couldn’t leave it open, because that ice formulating and falling on cars and damaging cars, but at least enough to scare people where they might have an accident.”
Although falling ice doesn’t happen often in the Lowcountry, officials are looking for ways to avoid it from happening moving forward.
“We talked about some kind of heating system to heat those cables where they wouldn’t freeze,” Law said.
Officials say that option is pricey, but after this weekend, it may be reconsidered.
“I’m sure the engineers will revisit that,” Law said. “Trying to figure out another way to manage it, but right now we’re dependent on mother nature.”
Officials in Charleston reached out to the City of Boston, who has a similar suspension bridge, for advice.
“They said basically they would never have that issue because they wouldn’t have a situation really that caused freezing rain on one day,” Wolfsen said. “Then, the next day would thaw it out. It wouldn’t get above freezing temperatures. In the many years that bridge has been open and operating, they’ve never had that issue.”
SCDOT says your safety on the road is their number one concern.
“Nobody wants that bridge to stay open any more than we do,” Law said. “But by the same token, we can’t take a chance on somebody from the falling ice getting hurt.”
The Ravenel Bridge reopened around 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon and officials say they don’t anticipate having to close it again.