Ribbon Cutting for Riverbank Zoo’s Pedestrian Bridge

Matt Perron

CSX Pedestrian bridge funded through Richland Penny fund. Image: Matt Perron

RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WOLO) – Riverbank Zoo and Garden’s newest walkway to wonder officially opened this morning.

The zoo’s new CSX Pedestrian Bridge was unveiled during ribbon cutting at 500 Wildlife Parkway.

The bridge will provide safe pedestrian access between the zoo entrance and the north parking lot over the CSX railroad tracks, officials said.

The $3.1 million project was funded through the Richland County Transportation Penny Fund.

“The new zoo entry complex is a vast improvement over the old entrance,” said Satch Krantz, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden president and CEO. “It provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere to our one million annual visitors.”

Work on the 115-foot bridge began in February and required the clearing of trees and vegetation along the CSX Railroad Line boundary that divides the zoo entrance and Interstate I-126.

The north elevator tower and stairs were constructed within the zoo’s recently added 500-car parking lot on the north side of the tracks. The south elevator tower and stairs are located beside the zoo’s new entrance, guest relations and gift shop area.

“We purposely used many of the same building materials in the bridge design in order to compliment the (zoo) entrance,” Krantz said.

The CSX Pedestrian Bridge is the latest in a long list of transportation and commuter improvement projects made possible through the Richland County Transportation Penny Tax program.

The Penny Program was approved by voters in November 2012 and includes projects throughout Richland County during a 22-year period or until $1.07 billion in sales tax revenue is collected, whichever occurs first. The program includes such projects as road widenings, intersection improvements, sidewalks, bikeways, dirt road paving and greenways.

“We are pleased that another major transportation project has reached its completion,” Richland County transportation director, Rob Perry, said, regarding the zoo’s new pedestrian bridge. “This project will make it safer for the more than 1 million patrons that annually visit the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens.”

The pedestrian bridge marks the final phase of Destination Riverbanks, a $40 million expansion at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. The overall project includes a new entrance with improved guest amenities and more parking; new grizzly bear and river otter habitats with shared boundary views; Waterfall Junction, a 3-acre children’s garden; and Sea Lion Landing.

The earlier phases of the work were funded through a Richland and Lexington county bond issue and a private fundraising campaign.

The Sept. 7 ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new bridge will be open to the public and will include remarks from Krantz and Richland County Council Chairman Torrey Rush and Councilman Paul Livingston.

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