This digital rendering shows the Bluffton Parkway flyover bridge near the U.S. 278 extension, looking toward the mainland. Vehicles leaving Hilton Head Island using the elevated Bluffton Parkway at right will pass over east- and westbound U.S. 278 traffic.(Photo: Beaufort County)
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Beaufort County has gotten the green light from state and federal highway officials to reopen bidding for the Bluffton Parkway flyover bridge project.
Minor issues with contract language have been fixed, and the county expects to seek bids as soon as Friday, said Rob McFee, county director of infrastructure and engineering.
"The (bidding) will be open for 30 days. We will open and review the submitted bids the first week in October," he said, adding that the contract will go to the lowest "responsive and responsible bidder."
The flyover bridge project would start at Bluffton Parkway's intersection with Buckingham Plantation Drive and extend over the marsh between The Gatherings and Buckingham Landing. Ramps would connect either side of U.S. 278 leading to the foot of the Karl S. Bowers Bridge to Hilton Head Island.
Six contractors submitted proposals in June for the project, which is expected to cost about $31 million. However, those bids were returned unopened after S.C. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration officials required the county to change language in the contract.
That delayed the project by at least a month, but work is still expected to begin this fall.
McFee said the project will not result in daytime road closures on U.S. 278.
Brent Rewis, DOT program director in the Lowcountry region, said the revisions were necessary to ensure the contract met federal rules.
"These ... guidelines are required when federal funds are being used on a project. Some of these guidelines (and) procedures are different from how Beaufort County typically lets projects," he said in an Aug. 10 email.
Rewis confirmed Wednesday that the county was approved to begin seeking bids.
About $15 million in state and federal funding has been secured for the flyover. Additional money came from county 1-percent sales-tax revenues and impact fees.
McFee said the contract wording was tweaked, but the scope of the project was not. He doesn't expect the delay to result in fewer contractors vying for the work.
"Generally, the bidders are more concerned with regard to the design parameters and construction requirements than they are the owners' contract verbiage," he said.