Crossing Each Bridge as It Comes

Bridge over the Wando River.

Bridge over the Wando River.

Here in the South Carolina lowcountry, bridges are a part of everyday life. We are surrounded by rivers, tidal creeks, marsh,and the inter-coastal waterway.  We nestle right up to the Atlantic Ocean.  Most of our bridges are non-descript but a few are rather iconic.  For years the main bridge connecting Charleston with the then sleepy village of Mount Pleasant was the Grace bridge., It was narrow, one lane for each direction and steep in places, not for the faint of heart.  I know many a soul who refused to drive over it.  It was a marvel though for its day.  Years later a second bridge was built next to it, the idea was one bridge would be for travel in one direction and the other for the reverse.  At one time to alleviate traffic lanes were reversed at certain times of day, A daily headache for law enforcement to say the least.  These two bridges were often featured by artist renditions of the Charleston skyline.  So when it was finally determined that the bridges had outlived their lifespans there was a lot of controversy about the modern bridge designed to replace it.  I’ll admit I was one who was not enthused with losing the flavor of the old bridges. When the new bridge was ready to open and before the two old structures were demolished our community had a unique opportunity to run over one span and then back into to Charleston over the other.  Now I had experienced being stuck in traffic on the Grace bridge with its narrow lanes and had felt the sway inside my vehicle.  I would mutter prayers that I would make it off the bride in one piece.  Running over it was sheet terror.  Not only did the bridge sway feel like an earthquake, there were literally chunks of road bed missing and you could see down into the choppy water below.  I had just driven over these same spots the week before.  It truly is a miracle that no vehicle had fallen through and I’ll admit I finally saw the wisdom in tossing out the old and making way for the new. I’ll even admit I love the ease of driving over the new Ravenel Bridge and can even appreciate the modern beauty of the structure, it is a bit like a stylized sail and when it is lit at night it evokes the romance of our southern gem of a city.  Which brings me to the bridge you see pictured in this post.  As bridges go this is not the most charming or quaint bridge you might come across, but it is sentimental to me.  I cross this bridge over the Wando River at least twice a day often more.  It has become a touchstone in my life.  A place to try and leave the worries of the day behind.  A place I check to see is it low or high tide.  But it’s days are numbered.  Like much of our country’s infrastructure it is crumbling, it has been pressed into service long past it’s lifespan.  So, it is being replaced by a concrete, soaring high above the water structure, devoid of character.  I am worried I won’t be able to contemplate the water, or check the tide when I have to  use it and my little bridge is demolished. Does it seem like we have taken the quaint and charm out of our communities in the name of progress to anyone else or is it just me?  In a place like the lowcountry that is filled with such natural beauty shouldn’t we build more aesthetically  pleasing structures? Is the modern world so wrapped up in what is happening in the virtual world on various sized screens that it is missing out on what is happening in the real world around them?  I find inspiration, reassurance and solace in the vistas I see while crossing the bridges in this magical place I call home.  I wonder if I will lose any of that when the new bridge is complete, after all the bridge over the Cooper River was a pleasant surprise. I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come  to it.

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