HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — For the first time in 23 years, it isn’t costing drivers anything to take the quickest way to the heart of Hilton Head Island.

Tolls on the Cross Island Parkway were dropped Thursday after South Carolina made its final bond payment on the $81 million road.

Signs are in place advising motorists to use caution and slow down, but not to stop, as they travel through the toll plaza. The plaza will be removed in the coming months by a South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) contractor.

Opened in 1998, The Cross Island Parkway is a 7.5-mile route that connects the William Hilton Parkway (US 278) at the north end of the island with Palmetto Bay Road and the Sea Pines Circle at the south end of the island.

Motorists using Palmetto Pass electronic devices (transponders) to pay their tolls electronically may return them in person at the plaza office to receive a refund of their current balance. The toll office is located at 4 Marshland Lane. 

Transponders may also be returned via mail at P.O. Box 5096, Hilton Head Island, S.C. 29938.

For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions about Palmetto Pass accounts, please visit the website, crossislandparkway.org, or contact SCDOT’s Customer Service Center at 855-GO-SCDOT (855-467-2368) toll-free.

The Associated Press contributed