From staff reports
Road crews this week start work on a four-year, $42 million project to widen a critical section of U.S. Highway 17 in Jasper County to improve safety and traffic flow due to increased economic growth in area.
The work is from the intersection of S.C. 315 near Hardeeville to the Georgia border and the Back River Bridge. For years the two-lane road, known as Speedway Boulevard, has been busy with commuters and heavy trucks.
South Carolina’s Department of Transportation will widen the 4.2 mile section of road from two-lanes to four and make other improvements, including bike lanes, intersection upgrades, safety rumble strips at the road edge, and a new traffic signal at the intersection of U.S. 17 and S.C. 315. The design also calls for a grass median between the road sections.
While this work is underway, the Georgia DOT is reviewing plans for a second bridge over the Back River near the Savannah River.
“The start of this work is heaven-sent and will make a tremendous difference in the lives of so many in the Lowcountry, as well as in the lifeblood of our Jasper County economy,” Jasper County Council Chair Barbara Clark said.
For more than a decade, Clark has studied, lobbied and worked to make the U.S. 17 improvements a reality.
“We have all worked so hard, for so long, to see this become a reality,” she said. “When we work together, great things can happen. For anyone who drives this section of road, this widening and the other improvements have been needed for a long time.”
The area is expected to boom even more in coming years due, in part, to a new Exit 3 on I-95 at Hardeeville and the anticipated construction of a multi-billion dollar sea port in Jasper County.
The project is funded by SCDOT through the Lowcountry Area Transportation Study (LATS) and the Lowcountry Council of Governments, which rate the project as a top road infrastructure priority of the region.
Other groups involved include the Town of Hilton Head, Town of Bluffton, City of Beaufort, Town of Port Royal, City of Hardeeville and the Beaufort and Jasper county councils.