HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – A bridge expansion project in the Lowcountry is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
The South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank has approved Beaufort County’s $120 million grant request for a full overhaul of Hilton Head Island bridges.
The U.S. 278 Corridor Improvement Project proposes improving or replacing the Karl Bowers Bridge and J. Wilton Graves Bridge connecting Hilton Head Island to the mainland and adjoining roadwork from Moss Creek Drive to Spanish Wells Road.
The project is expected to cost about $240 million, $80 million of which will be paid for through a one-cent sales tax approved by Beaufort County voters and another $40 million from the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
A final plan for the bridges should be finished by the fall and construction is expected to start in 2023.
“The U.S. 278 Corridor project represents one of the most important safety improvement and infrastructure development projects that will likely take place on the Island in the next 20 to 30 years,” said Hilton Head Island Town Manager Steve Riley.
State Sen. Tom Davis said his concern now is of the bridges’ location, design and functionality.
“Identified issues here include, without limitation, connecting to the Cross-Island Parkway, easing intersection problems in the Highway 278 corridor, and mitigating potential adverse impacts to culturally sensitive and historic communities,” he explained.
The South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee must now approve the funding request and sign an intergovernmental memorandum of agreement with the State Infrastructure Bank that the U.S. 278 Corridor Project will be fully funded.
Meanwhile, Jasper County is about to get a new exit off of Interstate 95.
The infrastructure bank also approved a $28 million grant and $28 million loan to create the exit 3 interchange in Hardeeville. The new exit would improve access to the future Jasper Ocean Terminal, a deepwater container port.
The Jasper County legislative delegation believes the project could create 24,000 jobs and have a $3 billion annual impact.