Well, that was rather disappointing.
Where were the city, county and state dignitaries? Where was the band? The ribbon-cutting ceremony?
Still nearly three weeks off its most recent targeted date for reopening after nearly two years of detours and construction stops and starts, Arthur Ravenel Bridge II opened with no fanfare near the end of June. Only, it simply opened. Kind of like a new restaurant having a soft opening, I guess, to avoid the crowds.
I’ll grant you, it’s not a bridge that comes close to matching the enormity and architectural beauty of the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, but it came darn close to matching the construction time frame. And while that might not seem like something noteworthy to celebrate and mark with fanfare, just the fact that it finally did open was reason enough for a special event.
The relatively small stretch of Mathis Road between Connors Drive and Cobb Road situated near the Walmart Supercenter on the 72 Bypass was a regular thoroughfare for people coming to and returning from the big box store and its neighboring stores. It was a route to the McDonald’s. Well, until that also closed for remodeling. It was a route to Bruster’s for a delicious serving of Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. It was a back way to get to Office Max. In short, it was just a darn convenient route for many people living on the north side of the county.
After being washed out one too many times, the decision was made to do something more than throw a few inches of asphalt over the spot. Doing so would require shutting it down to thru traffic, a sacrifice many regulars no doubt could handle. For a while. Sure, as they mindlessly took their regular route they often had to turn around, head down the road behind Greenwood Mall and between O’Charley’s and Outback, venture onto the bypass and head to wherever they were going. And vice-versa on their return trip if they yet forgot the road was shut down for a repair.
But again, worth the sacrifice to once and for all fix that place and make it a safe passage for all, right? Now a host of reasons have been cited for why a relatively few feet of bridge — causeway might seem a more apt word — would take nearly two years to fix and reopen, and they all certainly seemed legit, even if somewhat embarrassing at times.
Things happen, so I still think there was good reason for a more ceremonious reopening. After all, it’s a proud moment when something is fixed and is obviously far better than it was before. That little crossover is hardly recognizable, were it not for the fact that the nearby apartments are still painted blue.
I imagine Office Max would have been happy to supply some sort of ceremonial ribbon and scissors for an official ribbon cutting. State Sen. Floyd Nicholson and state Rep. John McCravy might have been willing to join in the festivities that quite possibly could have included proclamations. Certainly County Council could have attended and offered a few words. Skilled public speaker Theo Lane could have given a few remarks on behalf of the council and Robbie Templeton could have been the first to run across it. Which reminds me, since it took so long to fix, why didn’t they include a bike and jogger lane like the real Ravenel Bridge has? Since flooding issues eroded the spot more than once, the best choice for a band to ceremoniously open the span would have been Bad Weather States.
Anyway, it’s good to see that road is passable again. I do wish someone had thought to give it a name, even though I’m generally opposed to roads, bridges and buildings being named for people for various reasons.
Rob Russian’s Route has a nice ring to it. Then again, Greenwood County’s engineer has suffered enough through this ordeal and likely would prefer not having his name tied to it.
How about Bridge of Sighs? Or A Bridge Too Far ... Down the Road to Build. A Bridge to a Bruster’s maybe? Wait. I have it. Since it took a couple of years to complete and what’s done is done, how about Water Under the Bridge?