Intersection a grating issue for Bluffton drivers, county engineers

gmartin@islandpacket.comJuly 15, 2012 

You must be 16 or older to experience Bluffton's newest stomach-lurching ride.

Cars headed east on Bluffton Parkway dip severely -- and often unexpectedly -- as they enter the Burnt Church Road intersection before popping back up as the road levels beneath them.

Their drivers, weary of being turned into bobblehead dolls by the undulations, have complained to Bluffton and Beaufort County officials since the parkway was extended through the intersection in April.

The issue was raised June 25 to the Southern Regional Transportation Planning Team and has been debated among local officials since.

Although repairs appear imminent, they are complicated by a bureaucratic problem: Burnt Church Road is managed by the S.C. Department of Transportation, but Bluffton Parkway is maintained by Beaufort County.

It shouldn't be the state's responsibility to make any repairs, said DOT engineer Wendell Mulligan.

"Burnt Church was there first," he reasoned. "This isn't a problem for the state."

Beaufort County administrator Gary Kubic acknowledged the intersection is a problem that demands action.

"I've heard complaints from two or three councilmen and from a handful of people in my office," he said. "I'm happy with how the parkway's looking so far, but this needs to be fixed."

Informed of Mulligan's opinion, Kubic advocated a more diplomatic approach.

"I'll accept his word for it, but government agencies should not look so much at jurisdictional lines but at the nature of the problem instead," he said. "We'd like cooperation from the state, if not financially, then we'd appreciate their engineering suggestions."

According to county traffic engineer Colin Kinton, signs cautioning drivers about the dip are being created and should be placed along the roadside within two weeks.

He added that construction to alleviate the problem was planned, but he could not estimate when it would occur or how much it would cost.

The parkway extension is the first of two planned this year; a second extension will connect the parkway's current terminus at Malphrus Road to Buckingham Plantation Drive.

Related content:

Bluffton Parkway extension to open for drivers Monday, April 20, 2012

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