Wonders Way Path, Charleston, SC
The Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge is a true success story. The longest cable-stayed bridge in North America (at roughly three miles), it cost $677 million to build and is the largest and most expensive single infrastructure project in South Carolina’s history. It supports four lanes of traffic in each direction, accommodates 84,000 vehicles daily, and includes a 1,546-foot- wide span to make room for a shipping channel. But, to many Charleston and Mt. Pleasant residents, the most exciting aspect of the bridge is that it includes a 12-foot-wide pathway called Wonders Way.
The original bridge design did not accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. In response, Charleston Moves started a grassroots campaign in partnership with the Coastal Conservation League, the local Sierra Club chapter, Community Health Partners, and Earth Force. While state transportation officials initially balked at the price of accommodating nonmotorized users on the bridge—then estimated at an additional $25 million—the department later became one of the project’s biggest champions. They agreed to name the multi-use path (which ended up costing just $15 million) after fallen cyclist Garrett Wonders. And, despite the change in plans, the bridge was completed one year early—saving an estimated $150 million.
After the path was built, local researchers surveyed the users. Sixty-seven percent of Wonders Way users said that they exercise more since the opening of the path. This increase was even more pronounced for black users—85% became more active thanks to Wonders Way. For a state with one of the highest obesity rates in the U.S., this is big news.
• 2.7 miles of path
• Part of the 3,000-mi. East Coast Greenway
• Constructed July 2001-July 2005
• 24% of area households bicycle frequently
• City population: 419,126
• 3 local bike shops gained significantly more customers after path was built
• 2/3 of path users exercise more
• 525 jobs created from path construction
• Bridge built with federal, SCDOT, and State Port Authority funds
• $10,000 Bikes Belong grant for connecting bike path
View and download a PDF of the project.