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County Council, October 5

Supports City’s move for a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Ashley River
Why wasn’t a TIGER grant considered earlier?
Warwick Jones

Council agreed last night to support the application by the City of Charleston for a TIGER grant to construct a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Ashley River. The cost is estimated at $17-18 million. The proposed funding is $3 million by the County, $1.5 million by the City, $1.5 million by Charleston Moves, and the balance from the grant.

The Finance Committee was unanimous in its approval. But like Council member Moody, we wondered why the option to apply for a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) was not considered year ago. TIGER grants, administered by the Federal Department of Transportation, were created some 8 years ago. The Council member reminded members of the proposal to close down a traffic lane on the Legare Bridge for the use of bikers and pedestrians, the acrimony that accompanied it, and the time wasted considering it. In contrast to the proposal to close down the traffic lane, Council was clearly supportive of the City’s new plan.

Although generally supportive, Council members had some issues. The original request from the City was for $2 million but had now been raised to $3 million. The City wanted to have committed funds of more than a third of the cost when it submitted the grant application. Boosting County’s commitment to $3 million would lift the committed total to $6 million and above the 1/3 objective. Members agreed to the higher amount but stressed that the $3 million was a cap and that the County’s funding was to be used only on construction. The money was to come from the recent half-cent sales tax but was only to be dispersed if the grant application were successful.

A presentation by staff over issues relating to the disposal of vegetative waste opened yesterday’s session. Council was told that after Hurricane Matthew, the County had to collect and dispose of 400,000 cubic yards of this type of waste. It was able to do so by utilizing various sites and burning much of the debris. But it was not easy. We won’t attempt to define the problems but staff said some issues needed to be addressed and recommended the County consider creating a “burn site” on its property on Rt 17 S. It also noted that the burning would be very controlled and effectively in a big box and at a high temperature. Ash was the only residual.

Council member Schweers may not have been skeptical but he was concerned. He recollected the opposition by citizens to utilizing the site for waste disposal. He wanted to be assured that the public be given an opportunity to air their views on any plans.

The issue now lies with staff. Initial cost of preparing the site was estimated at up to $500,000.