CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – On July 16, 2005, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge officially opened, connecting Mount Pleasant to Downtown Charleston and beyond.
At the time it was built, it was the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America, with a total span of 13,200 feet.
The Ravenel replaced the old Grace Memorial Bridge which opened in 1929, and the Silas N. Pearman Bridge which opened in 1966.
All three of the bridges stood together for a short time before demolition began on the two older bridges on August 6, 2005.
The Ravenel was constructed to be structurally enduring, designed to withstand a category five hurricane, stay steady in a 7.3 magnitude earthquake, and survive a direct hit from one of the many container ships that pass underneath.
Loads of quarried stone were placed around the pilings of the bridge, creating ‘barrier islands’ of sorts, to ensure that a ship would run aground on the stone before hitting the support structure of the bridge.
The week leading up to the Ravenel’s opening was one of celebration, with fireworks shows and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra playing at a black tie gala held at the very top of the bridge.
On opening day, residents from all over the Lowcountry gathered to watch the first cars drive over the landmark.