WTOC rides along on Highway 278 Widening Project tour

Highway 278 widening project tour

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - A major road project has gotten the green light on Hilton Head Island, but it comes with some big concerns.

Highway 278 will go from a four-lane highway to six. To make sure the widening keeps local families who live along the stretch in mind, specially the Gullah Community, the city formed a committee.

The communities’ main concern is figuring out how the South Carolina Department of Transportation can have their widening project, but also save the land, history, and culture of the Gullah families and other residents who live along the 278 corridors.

“We suggest that you work with these families and see how they coexist with the highway and the cars.”

That’s the plea of about eight Gullah families who live along the corridor.

The 278 Corridor Committee was formed in November of last year to coordinate the public’s thoughts and ideas with the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

“They have to go through an environmental assessment and understand the impacts of the project on the environment - physical as well as social, and what alternatives there are,” said David Johnson, Chairman, 278 Gateway Corridor Committee.

As WTOC walked and drove along the route of the soon-to-be $7.4 million widening project, they pointed out issues that families have dealt with for years, including difficulty getting in and out of their neighborhoods, fast and heavy traffic, and the threat of safety to the communities along Highway 278.

“We experienced them. You were walking with us as we tried to walk that sidewalk in single file, and the quality of life here, already no matter what happens here, is difficult.”

The committee says they are splitting up into four groups to brainstorm what they think the alternatives should look like and then hand those ideas over to the state.

“It’s important for our community to be involved early on before they start narrowing it down.”

The Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce says the overall quality of life for residents is a priority for them.

“Accessibility is very important,” said Bill Miles, CEO, HHI-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. “Also, when we’re looking at workforce development, being able to have a workforce that is easily arriving in Hilton Head Island is one of those things that will make it better for not only our businesses, but our residents as well.”

The committee says that by hosting these meetings and tours to come up with alternatives, they are hoping their input will be involved in the state’s decision-making when they present blueprints to the public.

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