August 2018

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

A Note from David Bennett
We CAN Get There From Here!

In the 1987 film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, transportation challenges elicit tears of joy, groans of grief, and the hearty laughter of familiarity. We might compare those to the expressions of Hilton Head Islanders and visitors as they travel to this tiny oasis or make their way from here to the lands beyond the bridges. So whether you find yourself focused on the destination or the journey, here’s what’s happening with our island transportation options.

When we’re traveling by land. On July 16, our brand-new seasonal trolley operation, the Breeze, took its maiden voyage. Looping between Shelter Cove and Coligny Beach, with stops in between, it’s sure to add more to our on-island convenience and character. Island ambassadors are on board to offer poignant insights and answer questions as the trolleys travel. There’s even room to stow a couple of our islanders’ favorite means of transit: bicycles. Funded by the Town of Hilton Head and a grant from the Federal Transit Authority, this collaborative effort with the Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority deserves our recognition and appreciation, and even more important, our patronage! So take a trip on the trolley and tell your friends and neighbors. Fares are just $1, and service will be available this year until October 14. Find more information at hiltonheadislandsc.gov/trolley/.

When we’re traveling over the water. When traveling by water, we use the bridges. This November’s ballot will contain a Transportation Sales Tax Referendum question which would increase our sales tax by one cent. The majority of the funds raised would address infrastructure improvements in this very area, referred to as the US 278 Gateway Corridor. These include repair and/or replacement of bridges onto our island over Mackay Creek and Skull Creek, designed to coincide with the state-funded replacement of the one span declared structurally deficient. Right now, the entire corridor from Moss Creek Dr. to Squire Pope Rd. is being assessed. And then the question will be put to the voters. Educational sessions began in July to familiarize voters with these proposed transportation improvements, and the county will provide more information and announcements at co.beaufort.sc.us.

When we’re traveling by air. There’s good news in the air, too. On July 5, the very first commercial jet landed at Hilton Head Island Airport. It’s a milestone for our island paradise, marking a change in the mode of transportation for full- and part-time residents and Hilton Head-bound business and leisure travelers. It’s timely, as old airline equipment is being phased out rather than repaired. Credit is due to our County Council, the Airports Board members and their director, Jon Rembold, and our own Hilton Head Island town manager and staff. Of course, without American Airlines’ commitment to provide service, including the first-ever first-class service, this wouldn’t be possible. More air travel choices, such as more flights and more destinations, are increasingly possible. And less time in traffic. So the “No. 1 Island in the Continental US” now has some of the best options for air travel.

Interestingly, in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Steve Martin fought through distasteful, inconvenient, uncomfortable and expensive transportation methods because he was determined to arrive at his destination—at home with his family. I know it’s just a movie, but let’s face it. We all want the same—to be with those we love and enjoy, no matter the means to arrive there. So we laugh, and we cry, and we keep traveling toward our goal. Stay involved and stay tuned.

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A Note from Lisa Sulka
Town Celebrates Two Streetscape Projects for the Historic District

The wait was worth it. Goodbye orange barrels and construction zones; hello to two beautiful streetscape projects, which bookend the northern and southern end of Bluffton’s historic district. The May River Road Streetscape is a beautiful entrance to the historic district and the Dr. Mellichamp Drive Streetscape project is a gorgeous capstone to the Promenade.

Both projects help connect more people to our town’s businesses, restaurants, sports facilities, neighborhoods and, most important, these projects help connect us with our neighbors. One of the greatest indicators of a town’s quality of life is how easy it is to get around it—on foot and in a car. We are proud that these projects add to the walkability and accessibility of our town. With Bluffton being one of the fastest-growing towns in the county, state and in the southeast, rest assured our Town Council values the unique character and culture of Bluffton. With every project, Council strives to increase Bluffton’s quality of life and keep it the special place that it is.

The Dr. Mellichamp streetscape has provided 55 new parking spaces on Dr. Mellichamp Drive and 11 new parking spaces at the intersection of Dr. Mellichamp Drive and Goethe Road. This project also formalized parking spaces in the grassy area adjacent to the Michael C. Riley Sports Complex. The town added bumper stops to organize the traffic flow in this area. In addition, there were two existing parking lots already in use at the Michael C. Riley Sports Complex. In total, there are now 191 public parking spaces available along Dr. Mellichamp Drive and at the Michael C. Riley Sports Complex.

This project also installed pedestrian crossing, streetlights, benches, landscaping, and a more efficient storm water drainage system for the health of our beloved May River.

The May River Road streetscape project makes a beautiful entryway to Bluffton. This project added approximately 30 new on-street parking spaces from Pin Oak Street to Whispering Pines Street, installed sidewalks and street lighting on both sides of May River Road, and upgraded the storm sewer infrastructure.

In addition, these projects connect sidewalks from the southern to northern ends of the Historic District. The Goethe-Shults Sidewalk project installed nearly 8,000 feet of sidewalks and provided a sidewalk link between the two streetscape projects. Now, people can walk from the southern end of the historic district on May River Road to the northern end of the district to the Dr. Mellichamp Drive corridor and the Promenade.

I hope you also notice the streetlights throughout the Historic District. The streetlight design, called Shepherd Hook, is a unifying feature for the district, and you will see these same lights throughout these and future projects.

On behalf of Town Council, we believe these two streetscape projects will serve you and this town for many years to come.

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