BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. —
One Lowcountry lawmaker is pushing to turn the bridges leading to and from Hilton Head Island into a massive linear park.
Rep. Jeff Bradley, who represents Hilton Head and Daufuskie islands, says the current bridges leading to Hilton Head represents 1.2 miles of opportunity.
"I think that if we can stretch our thinking process, we can turn that into a 1.2 mile parkway that would be open to pedestrians. It would be open to bicyclers, it would be open for potential festivals, it would be open to the arts. I think if you let your mind stretch in any way shape or form, you can begin to see what could happen there," Bradley said.
The U.S. 278 gateway corridor project, once finished, would make improvements to U.S. 278 from Bluffton to Hilton Head but it calls for the current bridges to be torn down and new ones built in its place. That project has not been finalized, and Bradley said construction for the new bridges might not start until October of 2023.
Bradley, however, is proposing to keep the bridges and use the funding it would cost to tare them down, which he says is around $10 to $20 million, to turn them into a massive park.
The concept would use three of the four existing bridges and add grass, railings, lights and even places for food trucks, according to Bradley.
Bradley spoke at a news conference about the project Monday. He added that he doesn't know how much it would cost to complete the park but said, "We talked to a lot of people before we came out today to have some idea of what we are looking at, but we don't have an idea of what it's going to cost for all the grasses that are going to go in, or the walkways, or the painting, or the bathrooms, or the lights or that sort of stuff. But we have had people that do this for a living come back and say, Jeff, we can get this done for $5 million."
The District 123 representative said he hopes it will become a place where the Hilton Head and Bluffton communities will come together for generations to come.
“Just having a central location between the two communities to enjoy performances, to see outdoor art, to walk in that area. How uplifting it would be for one’s heart to be be up there and have the wind blowing in your hair and look at that from 100 feet in the air,” Bradley added.
The concept is still in the early phases, and Bradley says the next step would be to have the Beaufort County Council look at the concept in September. He said he has been in communication with Beaufort County Administrator Ashley Jacobs.
Bradley says right now many people are supporting this project, including Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka.
"I think anything that we can do to bridge, no pun intended, the gap between Bluffton and Hilton Head would be appropriate. So I just think that as this thing evolves there is going to be more and more dialogue that is associated with how to make it work and I think that is how we are going to bridge that gap," Bradley said.
If this concept is approved, construction for this park would not start until after the new bridges are complete.
Bradley says an estimated start date for this project wouldn't be until 2027.Posted by John Coulter on
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