School District gives Beaufort County access to land for traffic light on Bluffton Parkway

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Drivers on Bluffton Parkway near River Ridge Academy in the next coming weeks can expect to see a new traffic light at the Flat Creek Drive intersection after the Beaufort County School District unanimously approved a plan that would give the county access to the land needed for installation.

The plan was announced at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Aug. 2 and gives the county access to land near the entrance of the school, which is directly across from Hampton Lake on Bluffton Parkway, board member Ingrid Boatright said at the meeting.

“They (the county) don’t want an easement, they actually want to take over that portion of the little tiny bit of the property,” she said. “They’re going to have sidewalks; it is going to enhance the safety of students who may be coming and going to Hampton Lakes or onto Bluffton Parkway.”

The light, said Superintendent Frank Rodriguez, is “desperately needed” and its absence has presented “a challenge for kids,” especially during the 2021-22 school year with the opening of an entrance at Hampton Lake.

“When they opened up the new entrance or exit at Hampton Lake, it dumped a considerable amount of traffic into that intersection right at the entrance to River Ridge,” Rodriguez said.

The design phase for the $114,560 traffic light project was recently completed and, with the school board’s vote, the county is in the last stages of finalizing the right-of-way acquisition needed to install it, county spokesman Christ Ophardt said.

“We are using the SCDOT state contract for the installation, which will occur in two phases due to supply chain delays,” he said.

Permanent installation of the light is expected to take place by the end of the school year.