Reed Dulany III
Reed Dulany III

Letter to the Editor: A Bridge Too Far

First published by the Savannah Morning News: Reed Dulany III, the man behind "A Bridge Too Far" website and mailings, explains his campaign.

Updated June 24, 2024 at 11:05 a.m.

How many times are we going to repeat the same mistake?

The Savannah Bridge is in the wrong location. To rebuild the bridge or place a tunnel in the same footprint as it stands today will repeat a serious error made twice before which significantly damaged our city. Let’s not do it again!

In the 1950s, the I-16 highway and Talmadge bridge were built which extended the massive highway too far into the heart of our city and created a barrier between downtown and west side neighborhoods of Carver Heights, Carver Village, Cloverdale, and West Savannah as described in this SMN article: Shortsighted and from the SMN’s Beacon: Beacon. In the 1990s when the new suspension bridge was built in the same spot as the old, the problem was made far worse by tying I-16 directly into U.S.17/bridge thereby further cementing the division between downtown and Savannah’s westside.

We must now think outside the box and avoid repeating past mistakes a third time!

If they are successful in getting the money to pay for a multi-billion dollar replacement of a relatively young bridge, the new river crossing should be off of the Truman on the east side.

Rebuilding a river crossing in the existing west side location will only increase the damage to our city, while building a crossing off of the Truman brings tremendous positive opportunities to remove the divide between neighborhoods on the westside, spur the canal district into a reality, help solve car and truck traffic through the historic district, create a walkable/bikeable connection to Hutchinson (if an eastside tunnel is built), solve long-deficient evacuation routes, free up over 100 acres for new westside development, create a beautiful entrance to America’s most beautiful city, and much more! An opportunity like this comes around once every few generations and we must not miss it!

For the past five years I’ve been actively and openly promoting the eastside alternative plan – crossing the river from the Truman Parkway – should this project proceed. When I learned that tearing down the bridge was open for public comment and nearly no one knew it was happening, I became alarmed.

I immediately started “A Bridge Too Far” campaign to raise people’s awareness. Since my years of efforts to socialize this idea seemed to have fallen short and time was limited, I thought a public campaign might help to alert people to what was happening. This effort seems to have worked as people are finally talking about it – Let’s go Savannah!

Now we need to keep it on our radar. Projects like this can take a life of their own such that one day they just start building without full public awareness. We cannot let that happen.

I’m sure some will say I’m only doing this for our own business.  Our company owns two of the sixteen industrial companies on Savannah’s east side which employ over 1000 Savannahians and collectively we are always looking to improve traffic flows.  Yet, it is undeniable that an east side river crossing will massively benefit the entire community while also allowing the port of Savannah to continue receiving large ships. It solves ten issues instead of just one.  A new bridge or tunnel on the west side only addresses one problem – big ships – while continuing to damage the surrounding communities and missing out on huge improvements benefiting the entire city. Why repeat the same mistake? An east side river crossing helps to solve many issues for many people.

If a new tunnel or yet another bridge is built on the west side, we will live with it for generations to come. Haven’t we finally learned from the years of damage from poorly placed infrastructure? Hasn’t the concrete scar separating our communities and taking up precious west side greenspace lasted for long enough?

The good news is that there is a better way! Please take a moment to review this concept and deeper analyses at www.abridgetoofarsav.org and join us in helping our city move forward rather than staying stuck in the past repeating the same mistakes again and again.

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Published June 1, 2024 at 4:00 a.m.

     
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