The Town of Hilton Head Island hopes to ease congestion at Sea Pines traffic circle by making it easier for motorists to bypass the busy roundabout by smoothing out a confusing, curving intersection at the island's south end.
Town staff unveiled preliminary plans Wednesday to reduce the curve at Target and Arrow roads by moving the intersection north onto town-owned land. The plan also calls for moving the entrances for both Chase and Arrow centers farther from the intersection.
Drivers on Target Road turning left onto Arrow would stop before proceeding.
Drivers on Target Road turning right would yield.
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"There's two sharp curves put together at that intersection, and this would basically flatten it out," assistant town engineer Bryan McIlwee said.
Town traffic engineer Darrin Shoemaker said the intersection's "severe" curves confuse motorists about who has the right-of-way and make it difficult for drivers to spot oncoming traffic.
Although there haven't been many reported accidents at the intersection -- six since July 2008 -- Shoemaker said there have been many "near misses."
"You see a lot of folks stopped at the intersection who have the right-of-way but are confused because of the geometrics," he said. "The intersection also restricts a driver's line of sight, which contributes to the problem."
Adding a yield sign and right-turn lane on Target should reduce confusion and delays and encourage drivers to use Arrow Road as an alternative route get to Palmetto Bay Road and William Hilton Parkway, easing congestion at Sea Pines circle, Shoemaker said.
Charles Howell, owner of the Chase Center, said the plans would be the least obtrusive to surrounding properties but is concerned moving his entrance will make it more difficult for large vehicles, such as delivery trucks and trailers, and lunchtime customers of Fat Baby's Pizza and Subs to get in and out.
"I would like to see the road shifted more into the lagoon another 20 feet," Howell said. "That would make access and parking a lot easier."
Shoemaker argues moving the entrance away from the intersection improves, rather than worsens, access to the center by making it safer to turn in and out.
The changes could also give Howell more space for a travel lane and parking, which he said he needs, staff said. Plans have not been finalized.
The estimated $578,000 project would be paid for with tax-increment financing. The town hopes to begin construction in the fall. It is expected to last about 90 days.
Staff has considered the project since 2008. It is part of a town initiative to spruce up the area, improve traffic flow and make it more pedestrian-friendly.
The town recently completed construction of a traffic circle at Arrow Road and Dunnagans Alley to alleviate congestion at that busy intersection.
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