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Slowly, but surely, Beaufort County is building a network of secondary roads in the southern end of the county that takes traffic pressure off always busy U.S. 278.
The county has paved Foreman Hill Road and linked it with a new section of road to Malphrus Road, which leads to Lowe's and other shopping centers and subdivisions. Bluffton old-timers know about Foreman Hill Road, long a dead-end dirt road off Ulmer Road in the All Joy area just outside Old Town Bluffton.
Even before the $491,000 section between Malphrus Road and Foreman Hill Road opened, motorists were taking advantage of it. It's just too tempting, especially on a Saturday afternoon, to find a way to stay off the highway leading to Hilton Head Island.
Now All Joy community residents can travel to U.S. 278 and on to Hilton Head without traveling several miles of U.S. 278 or getting caught up in traffic on increasingly busy Burnt Church Road.
And more road relief is on the horizon. The newest segment of Bluffton Parkway should open by August. Motorists will be able to stay off U.S. 278 from BuckinghamPlantation near Moss Creek to S.C. 170. Traffic has been bustling on the section between Burnt Church Road and Malphrus Road since it opened April 23. We expect the same on the new section that will run behind Tanger 2 Outlet Center..
Foreman Hill Road was one of several dirt roads scheduled to be paved through the county's Dirt Road Improvement Program. The county expects to spend about $4.8 million this fiscal year to pave at least 18 roads. The projects are funded by state gasoline-tax revenue that came back to the county.
Residents along the road fought paving their road when it was proposed in 2006. They didn't want to see their quiet, rural area disrupted before other road projects were completed. They said the county was moving ahead with paving and extending their road because it was one of the more affordable projects on the county's list, not because it was one of the most necessary.
County officials agreed to wait to pave the road until the Bluffton Parkway had been extended to Malphrus Road. It was a good solution, and we're glad to see the county complete the Foreman Hill project as it finishes up the Bluffton Parkway work.
The long-term goal is to make Bluffton Parkway an evacuation route all the way to Interstate 95.
Orange barrels will be a common sight for some time as work continues to widen U.S. 278 to six lane from Simmonsville Road to S.C. 170. That's a major project, but smaller projects, such as the Foreman Hill Road project, can make a big difference in our daily lives, too. It's always nice to have choices.