County Council endorses new realignment for Bluffton Parkway

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comAugust 27, 2013 

The town of Bluffton and Beaufort County Council agree on the path Bluffton Parkway's intersection with Buckwalter Parkway should follow.

Last year, the town spent $100,000 to redesign the intersection, proposing to move it north about 350 feet. The town and landowner John Reed say their plan would allow for development of surrounding land, boosting the tax base and increasing traffic to the area.

On Monday, County Council agreed and endorsed the plan as its preferred realignment of the parkway, putting the town in a position to move forward.

"I look at this as a relatively historic day," Councilman Brian Flewelling said. "There has been a significant amount of compromise to fill the town of Bluffton's primary goal in their view ... to allow them to develop the town the way they want to."

Next, the town will review design details and hold a public hearing, said Karen Jarrett, transportation project manager for Bluffton. Then, it's a matter of finding about $25 million to pay for the work.

Five years ago, the county had approved a different route that would straighten a 2.5-mile section of the parkway from Buck Island Road to Buckwalter Parkway and eliminate a "dogleg" around the Pinecrest neighborhood.

Since council began considering the new alignment, lawyers for the town and county have been trying to determine which will be responsible for connector roads and rights of way.

Those questions held up the county's endorsement of the new design until Monday, though some council members were still worried.

Cynthia Bensch and Jerry Stewart, who both represent districts in southern Beaufort County, say they are concerned about preserving the stoplight at the current intersection of Bluffton and Buckwalter parkways, which serves The Townes at Buckwalter, and the number of stoplights that will remain on the stretch of Buckwalter Parkway once the project is complete.

However, a more specific traffic-management plan will come after the final design is established, deputy county administrator Bryan Hill said.

The council unanimously passed the resolution to adopt the new route as its preferred design.

In other action, council:

  • Gave second-reading approval of an ordinance that would ban texting and driving in Beaufort County. A 6 p.m. public hearing on the issue will be at the council's next meeting Sept. 9 in council chambers. Approval on third reading would make the proposal law.

  • Approved the condemnation of right of way for four parcels on Fish Haul Road on Hilton Head Island. The condemnations give the county right of way to pave the dirt road.
  • Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

    Related content: County committee backs Bluffton's version of parkway realignment, Aug. 25, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/08/25/2648751/county-committee-backs-blufftons.html

    Intersection issue with Bluffton Parkway realignment up for debate, March 24, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/03/24/2435181/intersection-issue-with-bluffton.html

    Revised Bluffton Parkway plan draws opposition, Feb. 21, 2013 http://www.islandpacket.com/2013/02/21/2389219/revised-bluffton-parkway-plan.html

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