By the end of spring, expect the traffic circle at the intersection of Bluffton Road and Bluffton Parkway to look much different.
Where there is now only concrete and scrubby, sparse bushes, there will be a raised mound of ornamental trees surrounded by colorful flowers and grasses.
These include pink muhly grass, bright green podocarpus shrubs, purple canna flowers and dense centipedegrass, according to town documents.
The town has been planning improvements at the circle for months but until now was stymied by state roadblocks.
We are ready to go
Town planner Pat Rooney
Because the state owns the roadway at the intersection, town officials needed a permit from the SC Department of Transportation before starting any work.
Previous permit applications — which included plans for large trees, lighting and signage inside the circle — were deemed potentially dangerous for drivers, many of whom already perceive the circle as a fender-bender hotspot.
State traffic engineers told town officials last month that any feature taller than three feet could block a driver’s line of sight and would not be allowed.
Taller elements — notably a sign welcoming drivers to Old Town and 12 large crepe myrtles along the perimeter of the circle — were stripped from the plan.
“We had to cut things back,” town planner Pat Rooney said Thursday. “...We changed the plans and sent them back to (SCDOT). They approved them, so we are ready to go.”
Contractors will begin installing a new irrigation system to water the future plants in the next week or so, Rooney said.
The town, which has about $15,000 budgeted this fiscal year for improvements at the circle, will begin accepting bids for the landscaping work early next month.
Moving quickly to secure bids and start construction will allow work to “get started early enough to meet the spring planting season,” town Beautification Committee member Eric Walsnovich said Thursday.
The project is expected to be complete by the end of April.