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We Can Get There From Here

August 2018Mayor David Bennett as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

In the 1987 film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, transportation challenges elicit tears of joy, groans of grief, and the hearty laughter of familiarity. We might compare those to the expressions of Hilton Head Islanders and visitors as they travel to this tiny oasis or make their way from here to the lands beyond the bridges. So whether you find yourself focused on the destination or the journey, here's what's happening with our island transportation options.

When we're traveling by land. On July 16, our brand-new seasonal trolley operation, the Breeze, took its maiden voyage. Looping between Shelter Cove and Coligny Beach, with stops in between, it's sure to add more to our on-island convenience and character. Island ambassadors are on board to offer poignant insights and answer questions as the trolleys travel. There's even room to stow a couple of our islanders' favorite means of transit: bicycles. Funded by the Town of Hilton Head and a grant from the Federal Transit Authority, this collaborative effort with the Lowcountry Regional Transportation Authority deserves our recognition and appreciation, and even more important, our patronage! So take a trip on the trolley and tell your friends and neighbors. Fares are just $1, and service will be available this year until October 14. Find more information at www.hiltonheadislandsc.gov/trolley/.

When we're traveling over the water. When traveling by water, we use the bridges. This November's ballot will contain a Transportation Sales Tax Referendum question which would increase our sales tax by one cent. The majority of the funds raised would address infrastructure improvements in this very area, referred to as the US 278 Gateway Corridor. These include repair and/or replacement of bridges onto our island over Mackay Creek and Skull Creek, designed to coincide with the state-funded replacement of the one span declared structurally deficient. Right now, the entire corridor from Moss Creek Dr. to Squire Pope Rd. is being assessed. And then the question will be put to the voters. Educational sessions began in July to familiarize voters with these proposed transportation improvements, and the county will provide more information and announcements at www.co.beaufort.sc.us.

When we're traveling by air. There's good news in the air, too. On July 5, the very first commercial jet landed at Hilton Head Island Airport. It's a milestone for our island paradise, marking a change in the mode of transportation for full- and part-time residents and Hilton Head-bound business and leisure travelers. It's timely, as old airline equipment is being phased out rather than repaired. Credit is due to our County Council, the Airports Board members and their director, Jon Rembold, and our own Hilton Head Island town manager and staff. Of course, without American Airlines' commitment to provide service, including the first-ever first-class service, this wouldn't be possible. More air travel choices, such as more flights and more destinations, are increasingly possible. And less time in traffic. So the "No. 1 Island in the Continental US" now has some of the best options for air travel.

Interestingly, in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Steve Martin fought through distasteful, inconvenient, uncomfortable and expensive transportation methods because he was determined to arrive at his destination—at home with his family. I know it's just a movie, but let's face it. We all want the same—to be with those we love and enjoy, no matter the means to arrive there. So we laugh, and we cry, and we keep traveling toward our goal. Stay involved and stay tuned.