Work Begins on 278 Widening - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/22/05

Work Begins on 278 Widening

You probably drive it all the time, and you know traffic can be rough on Highway 278. But they're starting work on widening the highway in ways you might not notice.

They've already begun surveying the area and in a few weeks, drivers will start seeing heavy equipment and construction going on, and that's a sight many have awaited a long time to see.

Congestion along 278 isn't getting any better.

"On Monday night, it was just stop and go, stop and go," said June Seebohm of Hilton Head. "The whole way from Squire Pope Road to Moss Creek."

That's why new plans to widen the highway to six lanes from Simmonsville Road to Moss Creek have many people talking. In fact, it was the hot topic at today's Bluffton-Okatie Business Council Meeting.

Although many people are excited about project, some, like Seebohm, are a little skeptical. "I think it solves the problem once you get past Moss Creek because that has got a bottleneck up to it, but I still think once you take three lanes and narrow it down to two lanes, you're still going to have a bottleneck."

So will this $16.8 million project solve the problem?

"I think it certainly is a step in the right direction," said Robert McFee, an engineer with the South Carolina Department of Transportation. "When you're dealing with a dynamic issue like growth, there's never the final answer. It's an evolving process."

And Bluffton's mayor, Hank Johnston, says this is just the first step. "We've got to continue to focus on the completion of the Bluffton Parkway, and we also need to focus on the interconnectivity projects."

In the meantime, construction crews plan to work during the overnight hours over the next year to complete the widening project. But regardless, some drivers are just happy to see something being done.

"At least you see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Frank Terrano from Hilton Head. "Before, there was no light."

When the construction process begins, workers will be working at night from 8pm till 6am. This project is supposed to be completed by next October.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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