Going up: Booming growth along U.S. 278 fuels Lowcountry’s fastest-growing municipalities

ISLAND PACKET: BY DAN BURLEY, MAT 21, 2015

If you want to chart the Lowcountry’s rapid population growth since 2010, follow U.S. 278.

The highway cuts through the area’s fastest-growing municipalities, according to new U.S. Census data released Thursday.

Between July 2010 and July 2014, the city of Hardeeville grew faster than any city in the state.

The town of Bluffton wasn’t far behind, according to the data, which estimates population growth in U.S. cities during that period.

In the same time frame, the Town of Hilton Head Island reached a population milestone — 40,000 permanent residents for the first time.

And the city of Beaufort and the town of Port Royal continued their characteristically steady growth, according to the new data.

“I think it’s overall good news for everyone,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said of the statistics.

The new numbers show the most eye-popping population growth happening along U.S. 278.

The city of Hardeeville swelled by more than 50 percent — about 1,700 people, according to the data.

Officials attribute the boom in part to growth in developments such as Sun City and Hilton Head Lakes.

“The numbers confirm what we’ve seen with regards to the number of permits our office issued in 2013 and 2014,” said Hardeeville planning director Brana Snowden, who expects the city’s population to rise above 5,000 by year’s end.

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