Hilton Head would do well to ensure a say on flyover

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Hilton Head would do well to ensure a say on flyover

Published Saturday, February 2, 2013   |  391 Words  |  

With $5.4 million dropping into Beaufort County's lap, construction of the flyover to connect Bluffton Parkway to the bridges to Hilton Head Island seems certain.

The question now: What will it look like when it's finished?

Here's where $1 million from the Town of Hilton Head Island can make a difference. Town Council's Public Facilities Committee voted last month to recommend setting aside that amount for landscaping the project after it's built.

It's not unprecedented. Town Council has voted to use hospitality tax money to contribute to mainland roadwork in the past.

Town officials have expressed serious concerns about the project's aesthetic impact on the approach to Hilton Head. They are right to be concerned. It will dramatically alter the landscape. Councilman Lee Edwards doesn't want it built at all.

But the council's time would be better spent working to improve the flyover's appearance rather than fighting its construction. The full council should support spending the $1 million.

They need only look at the Cross Island Parkway to see what a difference landscaping can make in a road project. The town got $832,000 from the state Highway Department and kicked in another $168,000 in accommodations tax money to turn the toll road into a true parkway. It was money well spent.

Putting money where their collective mouth is also would give Hilton Head officials a say in what the finished project looks like.

Beaufort County officials have looked at ways to beautify the flyover. They have estimated that it would cost about $700,000 to do such things as dying the concrete, adding accent lights, molding the concrete and adding landscaping.

The $5.4 million came from the S.C. Department of Revenue, which collects and sends local-option sales taxes to counties and municipalities. The county's 1 percent transportation sales tax expired Oct. 1, but money from the tax continued to come in during the last quarter of 2012.

The total cost is estimated at $45 million. The county is using impact fees it collected, sales tax money and $15 million in state and federal aid to build the flyover, whose design is expected to aid in hurricane evacuation.

The project almost certainly can be made to look better; Hilton Head should do what it can to make sure that happens.