HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – The project manager leading plans to rebuild or expand bridges onto Hilton Head Island is addressing some concerns recently brought up by town residents.
Craig Winn with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) says that while he understands there are questions surrounding his project, he believes his team has the right solutions.
An online petition was created within the past few weeks to gain support to “reject and rethink SCDOT plans.”
“They have proposed a massive plan to ease congestion from here to Spanish Wells Road. They have completely forgotten the rest of it. They don’t care how they’ve dumped traffic into the other two roads,” Steven Baer, who started the petition, told News 3 earlier this week.
More than 1,100 Hilton Head residents have signed the petition so far.
“We feel like we’ve looked at a multitude of options and different ways to address the concerns,” Winn argued. “But we always welcome public questioning and public input — that’s the way the system works.”
The project manager says his team has put in thousands of hours looking at public input and detailed studies.
“We looked at alternatives that went north of the existing 278, that went south, from the Bluffton Parkway to the south end of the island; some that went from the north end of the Cross Island Parkway,” Winn said. “We did look at all those alternatives but the environmental impacts far outweigh the accomplished improvements.”
He added that there is a good drop off in traffic at Squire Pope Road, Spanish Wells Road and Cross Island Parkway.
“The volumes of vehicles continue to drop off as you get to each of those intersections,” Winn explained.
As for the bridge from the south end of the island connected to Bluffton, Winn said there are environmental impacts that come into play when going over open water and marsh.
“You can’t eliminate those just by bridging it,” he said.
“The 17 different reasonable alternatives that we initially proposed accomplished the need to take traffic off of — or alleviate the congestion on — 278,” Winn added. “But we can accomplish that. We have to accomplish that while having the least impact on the environment.”
Some of those tweaked alternatives could be available online by January.
Winn says the next big date in the project will come next fall when those alternatives will be narrowed down to one.
SCDOT will work on funding in 2022 and by the following year, they hope to break ground on a new, effective way to get on and off of the island.