REJECT AND RETHINK SCDOT PLANS - DON’T MAKE HILTON HEAD ISLAND LOOK LIKE AN L.A. SUBURB

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BACKGROUND

Hilton Head Island is known as a world-class community because of its respect for nature, beauty and the quality of life for both residents and tourists.

We do have a problem with one of our 4 bridge spans, but that is under control and budgeted for replacement. We also have a peak congestion problem that we are starting to quantify. In an effort to repair these problems, SCDOT has come up with a brute force $250 - $500 million project that can’t be demonstrated to work and will make the North end of the Island resemble a Los Angeles suburb.

Congestion to/from Hilton Head Island is caused by one-way peak traffic during morning and evening worker commutes and weekend and seasonal tourist peaks.  During these times, approximately 50% of the traffic flowing across the Route 278 bridges is to/from the Cross Island Parkway.  Congestion occurs mainly because that traffic must stop at two existing traffic lights plus a newly proposed third light before it reaches the Parkway.

SCDOT has proposed six options that are all variations of the same plan to increase bridge and local road size to six vehicle lanes (from four) but continue to dump those six lanes into the traffic lights. When multiuse pathways are included, the SCDOT plans will be 7 lanes wide, with an expansion to 9 - 11 lanes wide at turn signals.

SCDOT’s plans will have a tremendously detrimental impact on the North end of the Island, and a tremendous cost, but have not been substantiated by any quantitative studies. The only computer analysis available was shown by Beaufort County in June 2018 and indicated that the plans proposed by SCDOT would not work.  

SCDOT has rejected citizen requests to study other less painful and more attractive methods of alleviating congestion and improving throughput, such as a bypass of the traffic lights to flow traffic directly onto the Cross Island Parkway.

THEREFORE

We the Citizens of Hilton Head Island and surrounding communities formally request our Town and County Councils to reject SCDOT’s six proposed plans and go back to them with the message that we would like to see more creative and less intrusive plans that are proven to actually work. We also request that SCDOT quantify the cost and throughput of the various plans in order to let citizens understand the benefit/cost of each.  

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our Island to grow as residents desire, and not as a concrete jungle. Considering that the cost of the six proposed SCDOT plans is at least $250 million, and has been estimated by some to reach $500 million, and that the bridge issue is under control, there is time, opportunity and funding capacity to think more creatively.

Other options might include:

·       A new bridge (fully or partially paid by a toll) to connect to the Cross Island Parkway. This would also help with hurricane evacuation diversity.

·       Smaller additions with lane reversals.

·       Use of an overpass or other routings, etc.