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Come Tell Us What You Think About the U.S. 278 Gateway Corridor Project Alternatives

September 2019 Mayor David McCann as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

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.