Beaufort grapples with announcement of Bay St. closure
Reaction to plans to temporarily close the main street in Beaufort's historic and shopping district to vehicles was swift -- and largely negative -- Wednesday morning.
"Some people are saying, 'not a big deal' or 'whatever,' but this is my full income," Simply Southern and Simply Southern II owner Darlene Kelly said, asking rhetorically who will pay her bills for the three-plus days Bay Street will be closed for paving and restripping.
In response to such concerns, Main Street Beaufort, USA, and the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce plans a public meeting to answer questions and discuss ideas for promotions to offset the damage to downtown businesses. The meeting will be 9 a.m. Friday at The Arsenal, 713 Craven St.
Beaufort City Council announced at its meeting Tuesday that the section of Bay Street between Hamar and New streets will be closed for paving at the end of the month.
The S.C. Department of Transportation has scheduled federally funded paving, milling and painting the week of Aug. 26 to 30, although Beaufort public works director Isiah Smalls is optimistic a full street closure will only be needed for three or four days.
The work is being paid for with federal funding, and the city has little control over the schedule, Smalls said. When officials asked about night-only construction or delaying the work, they were told that would cost the city, he said.
Alternative parking and traffic routes are being prepared and will be distributed by the city.
The timing of the work is not ideal, Main Street Beaufort director LaNelle Fabian said.
"If someone asked me if there was a week in the year to close down Bay Street, what would it be, my first answer would be 'No,' " she said. "My second answer would be January. My third answer would be August, but not the last week leading up to Labor Day."
Work is expected to be done in stages, and at some point is expected to close the intersection of Carteret and Bay streets which leads to the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge, one of two spans connecting Port Royal Island to Lady's Island.
Other street closures for similar projects also are planned later this month and in September.
Follow reporter Erin Moody on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.