$1.5 Million safety plan for Shelter Cove area underway


More people are on the roads on Hilton Head Island, creating potentially dangerous traffic situations.

Just this weekend, a crash left a local restaurant worker dead on Highway 278. It’s just the latest deadly crash in the Shelter Cove area in the past decade.

With the addition of a series of condos in the area, as well as a dozen more local businesses than years before, that area has become one of the busiest on the Island.

That’s why the town already has a project in motion to improve safety at this stretch of Highway 278 from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to Palmetto Dunes.

“We have had two pedestrian fatalities recently,” said Jeff Buckalew, Town of Hilton Head Engineer. “We think all these improvements will add to the safety.”

That was the driving force behind the 2 year-long process it took to get the right plan to improve traffic flow and safety and safety near the ever-expanding Shelter Cove area.

Five different intersections all involved from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to Palmetto Dunes. Each one with its own unique challenges and problems.

Five different intersections. Each with its own challenges. Too many cars, not enough turn space, no light to make a turn. No signaled crosswalks for walkers and bikers.

“We are getting backups into the shopping center aisle (at Shelter Cove near Kroger). We will alleviate that by having two traffic lanes going out and two coming in.”

“It’s (Palmetto Dunes to HIghway 278) an oddly shaped, scissor shaped intersection, and it is so wide folks may get out into the intersection and not know where their lane is. We will have little dash lines to hopefully keep people in their lanes.”

“We are going to add concrete curbs and gutter to only allow cars turning vehicles turning into the shopping center at 278. So no one will be able to turn left out of whole foods or Kroger gas.”

The designs will help stop the cars trying to get across Highway 278 without a light, adding a brand new traffic signal near the Sheriff’s Office and opening up two median crossovers closer to the edge of Shelter Cove Town Center.

It also includes safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians, including removing two unsignalized crosswalks.

The Town has put two years of planning into all these issues. Among the changes, adding in lanes to turn out of Shelter Cove and Palmetto Dunes, as well as stopping those dangerous left turns out of the shopping complex. Engineers believe it will be safer now especially for tourists.

“Pedestrian fatalities at these crosswalks we are trying to remedy,” said
Jeff Buckalew Town of Hilton Head Engineer. “There’s also an underpass, a footbridge where folks can go under the highway and cross safely. We encourage people not to use the highway itself to cross where there are no markings.”



The $1.5 million project was funded entirely by Hilton Head’s hospitality tax.

Construction started in early January and hopes to be done by late May.

Just in time for the peak of tourist season,

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