Beaufort News

Bluffton Parkway's eastern extension moves forward; western section hits opposition

  • 843-706-8147

  • Two sections of Bluffton Parkway still must be built before the road runs continuously from S.C. 170 to Buckingham Landing. One section appears to be progressing smoothly, but the other faces a roadblock.

    Construction crews are pushing dirt on the 3-mile section from Burnt Church Road east almost to Mackays Creek. Work is proceeding well, said Beaufort County engineering and infrastructure director Rob McFee.

    A status report in late May stated construction is about 15 percent complete. When work began in December, county staff predicted the project would take about 19 months.

    Eventually, a flyover ramp could be built near Moss Creek to smooth traffic flow from Bluffton Parkway onto U.S. 278, but that part of the project has been delayed because of lack of funding.

    On the other section, county and Bluffton officials are trying to settle a dispute over what route the road will take.

    Currently, drivers on this stretch of Bluffton Parkway must take a mile-long jog on Buckwalter Parkway, but the county aims to eliminate that by extending Bluffton Parkway in a more or less straight line to Buck Island Road. This plan has been adopted by County Council.

    However, the town and representatives of Reed Development, which owns property at Buckwalter Place, have asked the county to reconsider how the new road would intersect with Buckwalter Parkway.

    John Reed, the company's CEO, said he had planned to donate right of way for the project, but the county's proposal would run the new thoroughfare through a development his company has planned. If the county sticks with that path, he said, it would have to the seize the land through eminent domain.

    "It will require that definitely, and there would be litigation," Reed said.

    The county's Public Facilities Committee is expected to discuss the route at a 2:30 p.m. meeting todayin the executive conference room in the administration building in Beaufort.

    If the county rerouted the road -- even just by a short distance -- it would require reapplying for permits and redoing a noise study, which could take months, McFee said.

    "It's not just, 'Fill out this form and be done,' " he said. "It's a fairly Byzantine process."

    Construction on the second portion has not been scheduled because a 1-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2006 to fund 10 road projects has not raised the money it was expected to.

    Combined, the two pieces of the parkway's extension will cost about $37 million, according to the status report.

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