Planes, ports and industrial parks were all topics of discussion at a Sun City ROMEO Club meeting Feb. 17.
As guest speaker, Jasper County administrator Andy Fulghum updated the group on various projects in progress. As plans for the future bi-state Jasper Ocean Terminal progress, there is a need to address other infrastructure issues to support it.
Among the projects is the repair and widening of U.S. 17, chosen as a priority by the Lowcountry Area Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization, which includes Beaufort and Jasper counties.
“They all identified Route 17 as the key road to repair in the region, so I thought that was very telling and very appreciated,” Fulghum said.
With an estimated budget of $46 million, a cost of about $11.5 million per mile, the project is scheduled to begin in December 2017, he said.
RiverPort is another project that has long been on tap. The industrial park consists of more than 5,000 acres west of downtown Hardeeville and adjacent to the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.
The first development there is an entry road that will be called RiverPort Parkway and bisect Interstate 95, Fulghum said. A new interchange also is planned at Exit 3.
“That interchange will link that parkway all the way down through that RiverPort property to Route 17,” Fulghum said.
A new $20 million airport in Ridgeland, which has been about 10 years in the making, is underway. Jasper County will bear about $1 million of that cost through accommodations tax funds, while federal and state sources pay for the rest.
The airport is already a South Carolina aviation hotspot.
“The airport in Ridgeland is one of the biggest airports in the state and you would be amazed at the traffic we have coming in and out of there,” Fulghum said.
The project involves expanding the runway to 4,200 feet, which may one day increase to 5,000 feet if there is a demand for extra space, Fulghum said. The existing runway will become a taxiway and there will be an opportunity to build more hangars.
The county has purchased about 80 percent of the property needed for the project and is on target to break ground in the fall.
“It’s a jewel if you haven’t been out there. It’s going to be a unique airport. Our goal is to keep it solely general aviation and to keep it low-fee,” Fulghum said.
Jasper County is taking steps to build spec buildings and move-in ready properties when it comes to attracting businesses.
Some of that effort has been made in the Cypress Ridge Business Park, a county-owned site near Ridgeland, which is already home to Be Green Packaging and TICO Manufacturing. A third spec building, at about 40,000 square feet, is on its way.
A 50,000-square-foot spec building will soon have a tenant in the Point South Commerce Park through a partnership with SouthernCarolina Alliance.
“Even if you want to attract people that build their own buildings, they typically want to come down and see a spec building. They want to see how you did it, they want to see you have the wherewithal to put it in and they want to know you can do that quickly,” Fulghum said.
There are plans in the works with the S.C. Department of Transportation to address safety concerns on I-95 as a result of several fatal vehicle accidents.
Fulghum said additional survey work is needed before the state makes a proposal about what kind of safety improvements are needed, whether it involves clear-cutting trees in the median or adding guardrails.
Any work on that project will likely not take place until “this time next year,” he said.