Drivers will soon see a new splash of color along a stretch of U.S. 278 in greater Bluffton.
Over the next week, Beaufort County crews plant daylilies, crape myrtles, witch-hazel, juniper, hollies, and various grasses along a roughly half-mile section of the road between Belfair Plantation and Rose Hill Plantation.
The roughly $100,000 project is just a small part of a long-term county plan to landscape all the medians on the 10-mile stretch of U.S. 278, from S.C. 170 to the bridges to Hilton Head Island.
That process could take a decade or more and cost more than $1 million, according to county estimates.
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Like major infrastructure projects such as the planned Hilton Head Island bridge upgrades, the median beautification effort requires identifying new funding sources.
The Southern Beaufort County Corridor Beautification Board, a body overseeing the median improvements, met earlier this week to discuss potential options.
County planning director Tony Criscitello, who advises the board, suggested that a portion of new business license fees could be used as “a contribution toward beautifying U.S. 278.”
These fees would be a “renewable, constant funding source,” he said.
If businesses are required to pay license fees anyway, owners may appreciate being able to “look out their front door and see a beautiful median that they helped pay for,” Criscitello said.
The board has also reached out to Bluffton leaders in an attempt to fold the town into the fundraising efforts.
While those discussions have yet to bear fruit, board chairman Stephen Wilson said Thursday that in recent conversations Bluffton leaders have been “very receptive.”
The next U.S. 278 median landscaping projects on the county’s to-do list are along stretches of the roadway near Berekely Hall and the Tanger Outlets.