Petition filed to change plans for Highway 278 bridge expansion


More than 1100 people have signed off to change SCDOT plans

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) – Some Hilton Head residents believe the town should “slow down” on plans to expand bridges to the island and do more planning.

One resident recently started a petition to get community support.

“There are two traffic lights in there right now and it appears a lot of the congestion we are seeing is caused by those two traffic lights,” explained Steven Baer, who started the petition. “What are we going to do? Add a third traffic light out here.”

“[They should] look at bypass roads,” he added. “If half the traffic is going down to the Cross Island Parkway there are ways to bypass it or get it out there. They say that’s a lot of money. Put a toll on it.”

That’s just the beginning of the problems Baer and many other people have with the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s (SCDOT) proposed plan to ease the traffic on Highway 278.

“They have proposed a massive plan to ease congestion from here to Spanish Wells road,” explained Baer. “They have completely forgotten the rest of it. they don’t care how they’ve dumped traffic into the other two roads.”

Baer is a former Beaufort County councilman and an engineer who has created a traffic network in the past.

After he says the data and details he saw didn’t match, he started a petition online, which has now gathered more than 1,100 signatures.

People like Baer want more investigation done before the check is written.

“Compare it to going to the hospital,” said Baer. “You have chest congestion what’s the first thing they are doing to do, get an x-ray or an MRI. That’s what we need, is an x-ray or an MRI of this network to figure out where the traffic is going.

“Their solution is just to expand lanes into the traffic light and that’s brute force.”

SCDOT has spent almost three years creating proposals which it says would least affect people and the environment while creating a better traffic flow.

Final SCDOT proposals won’t be unveiled until next year. Construction won’t start until 2023 at the earliest, with a price tag of $250 million combined in state, county and local money.

Baer thinks with a price tag so high, there’s plenty of time to make it better.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” asks Baer. “The town and county spend $50,000 on independent consultants and the independent consultants says everything you are doing is perfect. Downside is we wasted $50,000. Upside is if they do find something in this plan that is missed, that a quarter to a half a billion dollars they’ve saved.”

Baer and several other people who have proposed these changes will be at the town council meeting Tuesday to talk to Hilton Head leaders.

Their hope is to get another study done; something that could change some minds and the traffic pattern on and off the island.

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