Connecting Bluffton and Hilton Head Island

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Recreational cycling

Recreational cycling has been part of Hilton Head Island for years. Our bike-friendly status makes us stand out and it’s a coveted island amenity. But biking’s range is limited — we can’t walk, run or ride bikes safely between the mainland, Pinckney Island and Hilton Head Island. The U.S. 278 bridge corridor project is going to change that.

For the past year, the South Carolina Department of Transportation and local officials have been meeting with the public, collecting information and studying ways to address a deficient U.S. 278 bridge span as well as traffic capacity and congestion issues on the bridge corridor between Moss Creek and Squire Pope Road. This year, a U.S. 278 Gateway Corridor Committee was appointed by Hilton Head Island Town Council to represent local interests, gather input and share information with the state. Dozens of alternative bridge designs have been identified and studied and the leading candidates will be presented by state transportation officials during a public information meeting from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Hilton Head Island Boys & Girls Club on Gumtree Road..

The final bridge design will be shared with the public in the fall of 2020..

Biking and pedestrian access and safety are key components of the project. The bridge design must safely handle users of all ages and abilities for those who live along or pass through the corridor, something that is not possible now. The goal is to have a safe, protected pathway that will keep recreational cyclists and pedestrians off the roadway, similar to what is in place on the popular bike- and pedestrian-friendly Ravenel Bridge in Charleston. Shoulders on the bridge must accommodate active cyclists and fast e-bikes.

The bridge plan will be transformative. It will enable commuters to turn to their bikes to get to work safely, and it will open up recreational opportunities on Pinckney Island for birdwatching, biking and hiking. And it will make it easier to visit the historical, cultural and environmental sites scattered throughout the Lowcountry.

The corridor must anticipate and handle regional growth. For example, Hardeeville is projected to grow to 30,000 residents by 2030. Hardeeville’s leaders have a plan to build a world-class bike network connecting most parts of the community, taking a page out of Hilton Head’s book.

Not so coincidentally, the East Coast Greenway, a long-distance trail network that will span 2,900 miles from Maine to Florida, will run along the Spanish Moss Trail through Beaufort, past the University of South Carolina Beaufort and through Hardeeville on its way south. Clearly, we want to provide connectivity and access to our island for those long-distance cyclists passing through our area.

Yes, these are interesting and exciting times — so please get involved in the U.S. 278 Gateway Corridor project. For more information, go to info@ scdot278corridor.com and complete a community impact survey. 

CHECK IT OUT

Leading options for U.S. 278 replacement bridge design will be presented by the South Carolina Department of Transportation during a public information meeting from 5-7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Hilton Head Island Boys & Girls Club on Gumtree Road.