Cooper River Bridge Run and the Bridge

The annual Cooper River Bridge Run and the Ravenel Bridge – not only do they create unforgettable memories,  the Run itself was instrumental in shaping of the bridge design and in its construction. Charleston Naturally recently spoke with Bobby Clair and Mark Swatta, key leaders of the Cooper River Bridge Replacement program, to uncover these bits of trivia.

Think about these fun facts as you are screaming your way across the bridge Saturday morning.

DID YOU KNOW:

The Ravenel Bridge is the longest cable stay bridge in North America. The cable –stay design allows the bridge to be flexible and move with the help of cables and towers.  Each tower acts independently to hold a specific part of the bridge while the angle of the cables pulls up and to the center to compress decks and to provide strength to hold the bridge aloft.

DID YOU KNOW:

Special design specifications were needed to accommodate the Cooper River Bridge Run.  The requirements, to make the bridge capable of supporting the Run, came somewhat late in the design and construction planning process.  Failure to adequately design and construct the bridge could have had serious consequences.

Cable Stay - during construction

Cable Stay - under construction

DID YOU KNOW:

The weight density of people, all moving tightly together as in a bridge run, is higher and thus creates more impact to a bridge than the weight of car and truck traffic.  Designing bridges for a massive number of people is a relatively new phenomenon in the bridge engineering world.

DID YOU KNOW:

The Charleston and regional running and walking communities were very active and instrumental in advocating for and developing the concept of a bike and pedestrian lane into the bridge design.  There was even a bumper sticker campaign!  The bike/ped lane is the most popular and most appreciated aspect to the bridge – - makes the bridge accessible to everyone.

DID YOU KNOW:

The old bridge had two humps and, as you had just cleared the first hump and out of breath, the second hump was in your face to challenge you again.  The new bridge is demanding for runners in a different manner.  On the new bridge, Run participants must make their way up the 6% slope and ultimately to 220’ height from the Coleman starting point – the old bridge was only 169’ in height.  It’s amazing what a few extra feet in height means to runners and walkers.

The Pearman and Grace bridges

The Pearman and Grace bridges

LAST DID YOU KNOW:

When digging up the mud for the towers, workers found large sharks teeth – 2 – 4″ in size.  Proving what we locals always knew – that sharks are notoriuous for living and swarming around the bottom of the towers where they feed easily.

Have your own fun fact or speical memory to share?  It’s simple  - enter it into our comment section below.

Bridge Replacement Leader  - Mark Swatta

Bridge Replacement Leader - Mark Swatta

More on the Bridge and the Bridge Run can be found at CooperRiverBridge.org and at BridgeRun.com.