The one-mile stretch of Bluffton Parkway between Burnt Church and Malphrus roads will open to traffic Monday morning after two years of construction.
The project added a four lane divided highway linking the roads and is part of a multi-phase plan to reduce traffic on U.S. 278 and create a quicker hurricane evacuation route. Construction on another segment of the three mile-long extension, which will run from Malphrus Road to Buckingham Plantation Drive, is expected to be complete by August, according to a Friday press release from Beaufort County engineer Rob McFee. Together, the two phases will cost $11.6 million.
Cleland Site Prep, a Ridgeland construction company, is building both of them.
Beaufort County is accepting construction bids for the final 1.2 mile stretch that would connect Buckingham Plantation with U.S. 278, according the county's website. The final day to submit bids is May 8.
Another phase of the project will build two flyovers at Buckingham Landing and connect the parkway with U.S. 278. Renderings of the flyovers show them arching over the marsh near Moss Creek. Project architect David Beaty ofColumbia-basedFlorence and Hutcheson said in late March he expects construction bids to go out in about three months. Construction could start by late summer.
The parkway extension projects are paid for by impact fee revenue, a one-cent sales-tax program approved by voters in a 2006 referendum and state and federal grants.
County Council Chairman Weston Newton said at a Beaufort Transportation Advisory Group meeting in March that the ultimate goal is to stretch the parkway evacuation-route all the way to I-95.
"When (the evacuation route) was first approved, one of the first things that was done was to take steps to make sure the Bluffton Parkway... made it on the list for potential federal or state dollars," Newton said.