Mid-Atlantic
Robert Behre / Charleston Post Courier

SC - Behre: If this is what 'perimeter protection' looks like, let's have more please

Anyone concerned about how a new wall around Charleston — or “perimeter barrier,” as some refer to it — might harm the city’s character should go to the Coast Guard station downtown and walk east along the water.

The city’s project to rehabilitate and raise its Low Battery is going well, and the first stretch, from the Coast Guard station to Ashley Avenue, is essentially done. It would have opened to the public by now if not for a delay in receiving handrail brackets from Texas during its recent big freeze.

But any day now, the “Sidewalks closed” signs will be taken down.

And what people will see, especially those who haven’t wandered around the area during construction, is a beautiful new public pathway along the Ashley River. It looks like what was there before in the sense that the bollards and railings look the same. But its new elevation gives you the sense that you have better views all around, even if you probably don’t.

The new promenade provides a similar experience to the High Battery, first built along the Cooper River almost two centuries ago. But the work also includes a few special flourishes, including a curved planter near the Coast Guard station, a gathering spot with Battery benches and bluestone near Ashley, a narrow at-grade sidewalk, and a median planted with unusually skinny palmetto trees (at least by South Carolina standards).

Technically, the Low Battery isn’t part of the ongoing planning over whether the Army Corps of Engineers should build a new barrier around peninsular Charleston to protect it from future storm surges. The Low Battery rehab was in the works long before the Corps showed up.

But the project is in the same spirit of what the Corps is looking at doing along the Ashley and Cooper rivers to protect the city from flooding from hurricanes and other big storms.

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