September 2019

A Note From Our Mayors - September 2019

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

Come Tell US What You Think About the U.S. 278 Gateway Corridor Project Alternatives
In 1956, when state and local officials stood on the newly erected draw bridge to Hilton Head Island, they ushered in a new era and created a gateway to an island that has become world renowned as a place to work, live and visit.

Bridges stretch three quarters of a mile east over Mackay Creek from Bluffton to Pinckney Island and then over Skull Creek to Hilton Head Island and in the opposite direction. With more than 56,000 vehicles crossing the bridges nearly every day, they have a lot of wear and tear.

There have been numerous road and bridge repairs, including replacement of the original swing bridge over Skull Creek in the 1980s. Now, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has launched a major project to address structural deficiencies at the existing eastbound Mackay Creek Bridge and to increase capacity and reduce congestion along U.S. 278 from Moss Creek Drive to Spanish Wells Road. The Mackay Creek Bridge is the first span you cross toward Hilton Head Island.

Since last year, SCDOT and the town’s U.S. 278 Gateway Corridor Committee have been gathering information from residents and business owners and using it to develop alternatives for road improvements to the stretch of roadway that winds through our historic Stoney community up to Spanish Wells Road.

On Thursday, September 19, SCDOT will host its second public information open house where those road options will be presented. I would urge our residents to attend this important open house to review the alternatives. It will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club at 151 Gumtree Road. At this meeting, you will have an opportunity to view interactive displays of the project study area—the U.S. 278 corridor between Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, from Moss Creek Drive to Spanish Wells Road.

The open house also kicks off a 30-day period that SCDOT is giving the public to provide comments, which will become part of its environmental assessment. Following this open house, you can view all the alternatives virtually on the project website at www.SCDOT278Corridor.com and offer comments.

Your feedback will give SCDOT officials an idea of which option residents would like to see used for this project. The option ultimately chosen will not only affect the residents and businesses in the project area, but it will affect all of us who travel along the corridor: workers heading to their jobs on and off the island, residents heading to their homes, students on school buses, visitors traveling to the island, cyclists biking along the highway, and pedestrians. The 278 gateway is our only thoroughfare to get on and off the island.

What we know for certain is that the Mackay Creek Bridge will be replaced. Additionally, modifications are expected to be made to the three remaining bridges and the remainder of the corridor to address congestion and improve roadway capacity. What happens beyond those improvements will emerge over time from the shared alternatives and your input. So, please come out and let SCDOT know what you think.

John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.


Back to School
Can you believe that summer for our high school and college students has ended? It seems like graduations from May River and Bluffton High as well as USCB just occurred. With the new school year underway, so is our need to be alert when driving in school zones. These zones run throughout our town a few hundred yards before and after the school’s entrances, so please remember to slow down and help keep our students safe while walking, biking or driving to school.

If you drive through historic Bluffton, you will see the addition of 65 banners to show support of our local university and Shark Week. I hope when you see these you will feel the same sense of pride I have, knowing that we are welcoming our new and returning students to USCB for the upcoming school year. These new freshmen are not only coming from Beaufort County, but from all over the country, and you are sure to see them throughout the year. Welcome them to Bluffton as these young faces are here for the next four years and hopefully after, to work and call Bluffton home permanently.

We also said farewell to five incredible students headed to college to continue their studies. Our town manager decided this year to hire student interns to work in all areas of our town. They worked tirelessly and made such an impact with all of our staff, and I believe that staff was able to get a few more items off of their to-do list because of them. Here is a little bit about each of them:

Walter Wheeler will be a sophomore at University of South Carolina this fall, majoring in marketing.
Hannah Hartberger will be a senior at University of South Carolina this fall, majoring in finance and risk management.

Zachary Fangman will be a senior at University of New Hampshire this fall, majoring in community planning.
Zachary Waters will be a freshman at Furman University this fall, majoring in political science.
Gabriel del Valle will be a junior at College of Charleston this fall, majoring in sustainable urbanism and historic preservation.

I would urge all of our municipalities, county and other private businesses to consider hiring interns throughout the year. You will not regret it, and perhaps these interns will become future hires.

Let Us Know what You Think ...