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More orange cones are coming to the Bluffton area as work begins on an eastern extension of Bluffton Parkway from Burnt Church Road to Buckingham Plantation Drive.
Work on the 2.2-mile extension began Dec. 3 and construction is expected to take 19 months, according to county engineer Robert Klink.
In addition to lengthening the parkway, Buckingham Plantation Drive will be widened from two to three lanes and will get curbs and gutters. Two noise-reduction walls also will be installed near the parkway's intersection with Buckingham Plantation Drive to shield Old South Apartments and the Villas at Old South from the sound of traffic.
The parkway extension is among several road improvements paid for with a temporary penny sales-tax increase approved by voters in 2006. The project had been delayed while the county waited for permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fill 10 acres of wetlands. The permits recently were awarded, Klink said in an e-mail.
Aimed at relieving congestion on U.S. 278 and making emergency evacuations inland quicker, the parkway project has taken precedence over the widening of S.C. 170 and some other southern Beaufort County road projects promised to voters. That's because the $152 million from bonds won't cover all of the improvements. Additionally, impact fees expected to supplement the budget have fallen short of projections, county officials have said. Beaufort County Council decided to make the parkway extension a priority over other road projects.
The parkway extension is expected to cost about
$11.5 million. Cleland Site Prep is the contractor selected by the county to do the work.
A proposed flyover bridge that would have connected Bluffton Parkway to U.S. 278 at Buckingham Landing is no longer part of the project -- another casualty of the road program's shortfall. The flyover bridge, expected to cost $25 million, is on hold indefinitely, Klink said.
County Council Chairman Weston Newton said the meeting Tuesday is being held at his request because the flyover bridge is no longer part of the project originally presented to the public.
"This public process is to notify and give the citizens the opportunity ... to see what it's going to look like and how it ties in," he said.
The county is in a legal dispute over right-of-way with some property owners along the proposed route, including the Hilton Head National Golf Club and the Executive Golf Club.
Condemnation proceedings will determine how much property owners should be paid for their land. If dissatisfied with what they're offered, property owners can appeal in court.