Hilton Head asked to help fund Bluffton Parkway flyover

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Hilton Head asked to help fund Bluffton Parkway flyover

Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012   |  652 Words  |  

Beaufort County might have to borrow money or seek additional funds from the state to close an estimated $5.3 million gap for its Bluffton Parkway flyover project.

County officials also have asked the town of Hilton Head Island to contribute to the estimated $45 million project, which would connect the parkway to U.S. 278 near Moss Creek.

"We have a gap, financially, and so in order to look at the remaining work that has to be done and the future work we are projecting ... we are trying to look at all possibilities," county administrator Gary Kubic said this week.

Final plans for paying for the flyover are expected in early 2013.

Hilton Head town manager Steve Riley said Wednesday there was talk "some years ago" about the town contributing about $2.4 million to the flyover project.

"(County officials) are asking us to reconsider that, but I don't know how that is all going to go," he said, adding that Town Council "raised the specter" of funding the flyover, particularly to cover the cost of aesthetic improvements, earlier this year.

Town Councilman Lee Edwards, who has vowed to block the flyover project, was unaware the county had asked the town for money but said he wouldn't support it.

"I don't want the flyovers to be built at all, whether they use town funds or county funds," he said.

R.R. Dawson Bridge Co., of Lexington, Ky., submitted the lowest bid for the flyover project: $36.7 million.

However, that price does not include add-ons -- landscaping, dyed concrete, accent lights and molded concrete that might improve the flyover's appearance, for instance. Those items and others could add millions to the cost of the flyover.

The county is trying to identify sources of money that would total $45 million, which would be enough to cover all the extras and also include a cushion to cover a cost overruns. From there it will "work backward" to determine what it can afford, Kubic said.

The county has about $39.7 million available -- leaving it $5.3 million short.

For now, several options could narrow the gap. The county is seeking more money from the state, which already has pledged $15 million. Another possibility is using money from the county's share of accommodations tax revenues.

Borrowing is yet another possibility.

"What I am actually thinking about is, if we have a gap of let's say $2 million to $3 million, then we would suggest probably a bond anticipation note," Kubic said Monday. "That would enable us to certify and go forward with the project." A bond anticipation note is a form of short-term, low-interest borrowing.

Interest rates on one-year bond-anticipation notes are less than half of 1 percent, county chief financial officer David Starkey said. Rates on long term bonds are between 2 percent and 3 percent.

County Councilman Stu Rodman, who has been critical of the flyover design, said Wednesday he expects the project to move forward.

"I am still optimistic we can end up with something that is very aesthetically pleasing," Rodman said.

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