Going straight on Sam’s Point Road just got easier 

LADY’S ISLAND – You may have missed it but Thursday, June 17, was something of a red letter day for Lady’s Island travelers. 

Lolita Huckaby

On that day, in this year of 2021, the county’s first project funded by the 2018 one cent sales tax was completed – the long-awaited Sam’s Point Road right-turn lane. 

The road addition, which includes a piece of a bicycle lane and sidewalk, creates two through lanes for traffic heading to the McTeer Bridge and points southwest. 

The sales tax, which went into effect May 2019, has already raised $70 million, of which $30 million is designated for projects along the U.S. 21-S.C. 802 corridor. 

(For a complete look at what those planned projects are, check out www.BeaufortCountyPenny.com) 

More talk about plans 

BEAUFORT – It may not be the most interesting show in town but public hearings on the county’s updated comprehensive development plan drew almost 150 citizens earlier this month. 

How many had comments on the detailed document is unclear since the hearings were an open format, which means folks walk around, look at the documents and discuss their concerns with the county planning staff and consultants. 

The 130-page plan, which comes with a 43-page “playbook,” is an update on the existing 1997 and 2010 comp plans which, theoretically, have helped guide development. 

These recent hearings follow the three public hearings and public surveys held last October at the beginning of the process. 

The usual “suspects” have commented on the document – the Coastal Conservation League, the Beaufort County Open Land Trust – but a new group, the Lowcountry Equitable Land and Resource Trust, recently weighed in with criticisms, contending it overlooks the county’s Black communities. 

The group wants to see more capital projects for the St. Helena Island area, including an art center, a high school and water-sewer service impact studies. 

Feel free to take a look at the proposed plan yourself by visiting www.envisionbeaufortcounty.com or taking a look at copies at the local libraries. There’s also a cool 124-page “atlas” which includes all kind of demographics about the area. 

The planners hope to get the document to the County Council for approval (which will include public hearings) by September … or the end of the year. 

If you’re reading this while sitting on the bridge, … 

BEAUFORT – In a recent meeting of the city’s Neighborhood Association, a comment was made about the opening schedule of the Woods Memorial Bridge and how perhaps it could be tweaked to better accommodate the ever-increasing traffic. 

From time to time, complaints are heard about being held up by the open bridge – folks late for church, for a doctor’s appointment, for a meeting with an attorney to change their will. But lately conversation has been more focused on the Murdaugh murders or proposed development in the downtown area, speeding cars or drive-by shootings. 

The bridge crosses the Intracoastal Waterway, and while it’s technically owned by the S.C. Department of transportation, it’s the U.S. Coast Guard that sets the opening schedule, which becomes official by being listed in the National Register. The current schedule: 

On Monday through Friday: Prohibits opening the swing bridge for large boats and ships during morning and evening rush hours. (The bridge must remain open to car traffic between Lady’s Island and downtown Beaufort from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each day.) The bridge is limited to opening only at the top of the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

– During the months of April, May, October, and November, considered peak “snowbird” boat travel, from Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the draw bridge need not open to navigation; and between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the draw need open only on the hour and half-hour. 

– And yes, the official schedule says the draw bridge shall open on signal from a boat at all times. 

Folks who have been here for awhile know that complaints about the bridge scheduling often lead to comments like “why don’t they replace that thing,” referring to one of the few remaining swing bridges in South Carolina. 

Debate about a replacement bridge is almost as old as the ebb and flow of the tides. 

There is no long-range plan for replacement … lots of talk, no specific plan. 

In the meantime, follow the wise advice of former state Rep. Edie Rodgers, also a former City Council member who recommended, at that same meeting, if you’re stuck in traffic, waiting for a boat to pass under the bridge, just sit there and enjoy the magnificent view. 

Now we know a little more of the story 

BEAUFORT – The city announced at the beginning of last week plans to go with another garbage collection company, Capital Waste, leaving Waste Pro after 12 years. 

By the end of the week, we knew a little more about what this is going to cost city residents – Monthly garbage bills, which show up on your Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer water bill, will increase $3.06, to $20 a month. 

Commercial customers will also see an increase based on the number of pickups they require. 

All of this, which includes separate recycling pickups, begins July 1. 

The city council selected the Columbia-based Capital Waste from four bidders for the five-year contract. 

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer and former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today, Beaufort Today and The Robesonian (Lumberton, N.C.). She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com. 

Pictured at top: Gray’s Hill native Darius Brown provided a personal link to the area’s history for the “Free and Equal” interactive app produced by USC Beaufort’s Institute for the Study of the Reconstruction Era and the Walking Cinema media company, which celebrated the app’s release with a launch party Thursday night at the historic Porter Chapel in the Naval Heritage Park. The app is free and available at Google Play or Apple App Stores. Gullah gospel tunes were performed by church members from St. Helena Island at the launch party, as well. Photo by Lolita Huckaby.

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