The University of South Carolina Beaufort campus is now only months away from opening, but before classes can start, the Town of Hilton Head Island must fix up a south-end roadway that will affect traffic in the area for about four months.
At Tuesday’s Hilton Head Town Council meeting, unanimous approval was given to transfer $605,000 from the delayed Coligny Park budget to fund improvements to Office Park Road — a requirement of the town’s agreement with USCB.
The project is expected to begin next month and will affect “virtually all traffic” on the island’s south end until June, according to town documents.
Office Park Road, which connects Greenwood Drive to Pope Avenue, has an intersection with New Orleans Road that “doesn’t quite line up,” according to town manager Steve Riley. Along with fixing the offset intersection, improvements will be made where Office Park Road ties into Greenwood Drive, he said.
Scott Liggett, the town’s director of public projects and chief engineer, said that during construction, the offset intersection will be “shifted slightly” toward Coligny. When work is completed at the intersection, New Orleans Road will have an additional lane. Of the four lanes, one will be a right turn, two will be left turns, and one will allow drivers to only go straight. Office Park Road also will have an additional lane going toward the intersection. There will be a left turn, right turn and straight lane.
Liggett said interim lane closures are expected during construction, but a “significant amount” of the work will be done at night to avoid interrupting traffic
during the day. He said he doesn’t expect any detours around Office Park Road during construction.
Riley said this is the only roadway improvement needed in connection with the opening of USCB, which was identified in a traffic study.
The construction is expected to take 120 days, so work must begin in February to be finished before tourist season picks up, the documents said. The work must also be completed by the time classes start at USCB, which is scheduled for September, Riley said.
The project is expected to cost $2,965,000, according to documents. The transfer of $605,000 will be added to the current budget of more than $2.3 million.
Town documents show the Coligny Area Improvements project’s budget can be supplemented in the fiscal year 2019 capital improvement plan budget.
The project was put on hold in July when Riley announced the town was short on cash after depleting reserves for Hurricane Matthew recovery. To replenish the hurricane recovery fund, the town’s current budget includes a five-year, 5-mill increase to property taxes.
BY ALEX KINCAID