Lights out for US 278, SC 170 intersection

February 16, 2014 

The intersection of U.S. 278 and S.C. 170 is a little darker because of Beaufort County's S.C. 170 widening project, which worries one area driver.

"You've really got three (southbound lanes) merging into one, and it's not lit," said Bob Alberti, who lives in Sun City Hilton Head. "It's terribly unsafe."

Several overhead lights at the intersection have been disconnected while the county and contractor Cleland Site Prep relocate utility lines as part of the work to widen S.C. 170 to four lanes between its intersections with S.C. 46 and U.S. 278, county traffic engineer Colin Kinton said.

The county owns the overhead lights at the interchange and pays Palmetto Electric Cooperative to maintain them, Kinton said.

However, the county and contractor want to determine where water, sewer and gas lines will be located before it decides where to relocate the overhead lights and the electrical lines, Kinton added.

"Everything's being relocated in that area, and it's gotten in the way of the (power) conduits feeding those lights," Kinton said. "We want to make sure we move those poles only one time."

But that's left the quarter-mile stretch of S.C. 170 south of the U.S. 278 overpass dark and dangerous, according to Alberti. He says he often heads home from work at about 11 p.m. and a half-dozen lights at the intersection are out.

Until the highway is widened and lights are restored, drivers have to contend with merging S.C. 170 traffic and the entrance to the medical offices at Okatie Center Boulevard South in the dark, he said.

A delay in getting a permit from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has caused a 90-day deadline extension for completion of the $15 million widening project, now scheduled to be finished in August, county engineering director Rob McFee has said.

"I would hope that we can get a lot of the utilities and work up there resolved in the next few months, and once we get that resolved, we'll get back together with Palmetto Electric to take care of those lights," Kinton said.

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at

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