Residents, Tourists Deal with Increased Highway 278 Traffic - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/12/06

Residents, Tourists Deal with Increased Highway 278 Traffic

Highway 278 on Hilton Head Island. Highway 278 on Hilton Head Island.

If you've ever been to Hilton Head Island, you know how bad the traffic can get on Highway 278. Things have been even worse lately with all the construction. And now with the Verizon Heritage, even more cars will be on the road.

Lately, the people who drive 278 every day have been suffering through some pretty long commutes, but they are anticipating all the additional traffic and making adjustments to work around it.

"You have to do a lot of planning so you can get to where you need to on time, that's for sure," said Mary Ann Hedemark, who lives at Sea Pines.

"You know not to go to the grocery on Saturday," noted fellow resident Jane Zwerner.

But it's not just the people who live there who have to make adjustments. The tourists do, also. Dean Rowel from Charleston told us, "We rent in Sea Pines and sometimes we rent a year ahead so we avoid the traffic."

Even those here for reasons other than the Heritage find themselves waiting for one thing or another. "Our biggest challenge is trying to ride our bike in the traffic," said Mary Ellen Miller from New York. "There's a lot more people, but we still enjoy it."

The Verizon Heritage may bring more traffic to the island than before, but some like Dean Rowel remember a time when it was worse. "I've been coming to the Heritage since I was 25 years old when the old Hilton Head Island bridge would go out," he recalled. "And I was a school teacher and we would get stuck here and have to call in and say we wouldn't be at school."

And even with all the traffic, many say coming to the tournament is worth it. "That's part of the package, having the crowds," said Rowel. "Otherwise no one will be here. That's how we see it."

Sheriff PJ Tanner tells us he has a special task force in place starting tomorrow to help keep traffic on 278 flowing. "Their primary function is to stay mobile, work traffic accidents we may have, be there if we have stranded motorists or calls for service," he said. "We'll see a spike."

And hopefully that will help keep the roadways clear.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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