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Media Release

State Infrastructure Bank Approves $120 Million Grant for U.S. 278 Corridor Improvement Project

Release Date: July 6, 2020

Contact Information:
Carolyn Grant email icon , Communications Director, 843-341-4618
Liz Farrell , Public Information Officer, Beaufort County, 843-255-2357

The South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank today approved a $120 million grant that will be used toward the U.S. 278 Corridor Improvement Project.

Officials with the Town of Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County applied for the grant in 2019 to support the project.

"The U.S. 278 Corridor project represents one of the most important safety improvement and infrastructure development projects that will likely take place on the Island in the next 20 to 30 years," said Hilton Head Island Town Manager Steve Riley.

The corridor project proposes improvements to or replacement of the Karl Bowers Bridge and J. Wilton Graves Bridge connecting Hilton Head Island to the mainland, adjoining roadwork from Moss Creek Drive to Spanish Wells Road on Hilton Head Island, and other multimodal transportation improvements.

In November 2018, Beaufort County voters approved a 1 cent sales tax to generate $80 million for the project, expected to cost around $272 million. Thus far, the tax has generated $35.6 million. Additional funds would be generated from federal and local support.

Riley said the plan was to leverage the local funds raised by the institution of the penny sales tax increase to obtain matching grant funds at the State level. The grant will not need to be repaid as long as it is used to complete the corridor project.

"In order to come up with the entire project budget it was necessary to utilize funding from S.C. Department of Transportation, Beaufort County and the Town through the sales tax, and then funds from the state infrastructure bank," Riley said.

The infrastructure bank selects and assists in financing major qualified projects by providing loans and other financial assistance for constructing and improving highway and transportation facilities necessary for public purposes including economic development.

Beaufort County Council member Stu Rodman, who has represented Council on this project, said, "A big thank you goes to state Sen. Tom Davis, who proposed the funding strategy; Josh Gruber, who developed the implementation strategy; David Johnson, who led the community effort; Tom Sharp, who led the Greater Island Task Force that proposed the corridor approach, rather than just replacing bridges; and Rob McFee, who engineered the project in the early years."

The South Carolina Joint Bond Review Committee must now approve the funding request and sign an intergovernmental memorandum of agreement with the State Infrastructure Bank that the U.S. 278 Corridor Project will be fully funded.