HiltonHead SC Cross Island Parkway doing well

October 23, 2003
By Peter Samuel

South Carolina's Cross Island Parkway (CIP) on Hilton Head Island got some headlines recently for having a "shortfall" in toll revenues. Actually traffic is higher than expected and revenue just a tad short of expenses - and that mostly because of the success in selling transponders and the popularity of discounted tolls. Revenues on the small tollroad in 2002-03 were $5.4m, just $70k short of the amount needed to cover operating costs and debt service. Indeed a refinancing already done toward the end of the financial year will get the pike in the black.

Traffic is running at 18k veh/day, the level which forecasts expected to be reached in 2008. The CIP is on Hilton Head Island near the southernmost tip of the state, closer to Savannah GA than to any SC center of significance. Opened in Jan 1998 it provides a straight shot from the main bridge to the isiand to favored beaches. By bridging Broad Creek with the CIP motorists were able to save 10mins to 15mins compared to US-278, a circuitous free road. Costing $83m the 12km (7mi) road is 2x2-lanes it was financed with $45m of state bonds and $38m of tax funding. It has 12 toll lanes in its mainline plaza plus a ramp plaza. ACS has a toll operations contract and received $2.5m to cover its costs last year. Car tolls are $1 cash and 5c with a transponder. The transponders marketed as the Palmetto Pass are popular and do over 60% of transactions - a high figure for a resort area with many occasional visitors.

State officials have said tolls will be ended when the bonds are paid off - a date once put at 2021. But officials now say they can't give any date for bond retirement. The state had to buy 3,000 new transponders from TransCore to replace Mark IV tags whose batteries have conked out already. They spent $70k on those. TRnews 2003-10-23

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