State to re-study traffic after Hampton Parkway residents raise safety concerns

achristnovich@beaufortgazette.comMarch 27, 2012 

The state has agreed to re-study the need for a deceleration lane on eastbound U.S. 278 for drivers turning right onto Hampton Parkway.

The decision announced Monday at the Beaufort County Council meeting was welcomed by residents off Hampton Parkway who said that the loss of the lane would make driving unsafe. They live in the Hampton Lake, Baynard Park and Parkside neighborhoods.

The lane was absorbed under the current widening of U.S. 278 from Simmonsville Road to S.C. 170. The S.C. Department of Transportation had said there was not enough traffic at the intersection to justify the deceleration lane, citing a 2009 study.

Residents, however, say a new study is needed.

Brent Rewis, U.S. 278 construction project manager, needed only a few minutes to explain that he had heard their concerns, and that the 2009 study would be updated.

Rewis said he should be able to bring a review of traffic counts to council in about three weeks.

"Well, uh, that was easy," council Chairman Weston Newton said, as people in the room chuckled.

IN OTHER ACTION

Facing water damage at three major county-owned buildings, Beaufort County Council members toured the federal courthouse in Beaufort on Monday as a possible solution to some of its space needs.

The county-owned building is on a list of 60 federal court sites around the country being considered for closing. The federal government leases the building from the county.

County staff suggested the building could be used for County Council meetings, school board meetings and some administrative offices. No decision was made Monday by council.

Meanwhile, the council is also weighing the future of the County Courthouse, the county's main administration building in Beaufort and the county jail, all of which have sustained water damage, according to county administrator Gary Kubic. All three repair and renovation projects combined would cost about $18 million, according to architect Miles Glick.

Kubic said he will recommend that the County Courthouse be renovated, a $13.5 million project that would repair water-damaged walls, windows and the roof.

The county detention center and part of the administration building have also been damaged by leaks. It is estimated that those two projects would cost a combined $4.5 million. Kubic said county staff is still considering options for those buildings.

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