HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WSAV) — After years of planning, preparation, public hearings, and investigation, SCDOT officially unveiled its “preferred alternative” for the Highway 278 bridges and corridor on Wednesday.
The $290 million plan involved new 3 lane bridges in each direction to help ease traffic, multiple new lanes, lights and turn lanes as you move on to Hilton Head Island to try and keep cars moving smoothly. Project manager Craig Winn says by 2045 it could save drivers as much as 32 minutes getting off the island as opposed to not making any changes.
“You will be able to save approximately 15 minutes coming on the island through the entire corridor. Coming on the island you will be able to save about 32 minutes. that’s based on if nothing was done in 2045.”
The dangerous Haig Point and Pinckney Island intersection will be revamped as well. The bridge there would be raised and a crossing created under 278 to get to nature preserve safely.
Walking or biking paths would also be created along the roadway, and several special nods to the historic Stoney community on Hilton Head Island, including a pavilion with historical information, and signs marking the entrance to the area are all included in the proposal.
“Reducing residential impacts that were a big one so we ended up on the preferred alternative having two business relocations and no residential relocations. We were able to do that by looking at how the alignment of the road came through Jenkins Island, through Stoney, and on into Spanish Wells.”
“By changing each of the signals at Squire Pope Road, adding one at wild horse and moving on to Spanish Wells road, we made each of those signals a two-phase signal so you are able to move through each of those signals a two-phase signal so you are able to move through those signals as you go through 278 its either red or green, you aren’t waiting for the side streets.”
“We want to add signs at each end that designate welcome to Stoney as you come through people will know they are Stoney. Instead of just bypassing through and seeing residential and business they know they are in a cultural gateway to the Island.”
Now that the alternative has been unveiled, SCDOT wants the public to weigh in.
Beaufort County and the South Carolina Department of Transportation launched the public engagement activities for the US 278 Corridor Improvements Project public hearing, which will include online and in-person opportunities. The public hearing webpage and Environmental Assessment (EA) are available on the project website now and include all materials that will be available for view at the in-person public hearing. The public is encouraged to review and make comments through August 22, 2021.
The purpose of the public hearing is to highlight the environmental assessment document’s findings, including the recommended road, bridge and intersection improvements and potential impacts, to ask for input from the public and stakeholders.
“Public input is our number one priority for this public hearing,” said SCDOT Project Manager Craig Winn, PE. “For this reason, we are offering numerous safe and convenient options to participate, both in-person and virtually. The feedback we receive on these proposed improvements will shape this project’s future and the region for years to come.”
“I, on behalf of the members of the Beaufort County Council, want to thank SCDOT and the Project Team for the work they have done thus far on the design and the Environmental Assessment for the US 278 Corridor Improvement Project,” said Beaufort County Administrator Eric Greenway. “We are glad the public hearing process is finally underway as we are anxious to have the public’s input on the projected alignment so Beaufort County can continue to work with the SCDOT team to move this very important infrastructure project forward to completion,”
The in-person public hearing will be held on July 22 at the Hilton Head Island Recreation Center (20 Wilborn Road). There will be an open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the formal presentation and verbal comment session will begin at 6 p.m. To speak during the formal comment session, participants must be signed up prior in advance and can do so by visiting the project website by July 21 or on-site at the public hearing prior to 5:55 pm.
For those who are unable to attend the July 22 public hearing but would like to meet in-person, citizens are encouraged to make a personal appointment with the project team. Appointments will be held from July 14-16 and from August 18-21 at the Island Recreation Center. Appointments may be scheduled online or by calling the new public hearing hotline (843-258-1100). Questions or comments can also be left by leaving a voicemail on this hotline.
The public is encouraged to submit a comment between July 7 and August 22, 2021. Comments may be submitted on the project website, by email to info@SCDOT278Corridor.com, or by mail (Attn. Craig Winn, SC Department of Transportation, 955 Park Street, Room 401, Columbia, SC 29202-0191).
Information presented during the public hearing is available in Spanish by request.
The US 278 Corridor Improvements project proposes improvements to the US 278 corridor between Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, from Moss Creek Drive to Spanish Wells Road. This would improve the final segment of US 278 between I-95 and the Cross Island Parkway. The purpose of this project is to address structural deficiencies at the existing eastbound MacKay Creek bridge and reduce congestion along US 278 from Moss Creek Drive to Spanish Wells Road.
Comments must be postmarked or submitted electronically by August 22, 2021.