It appears the S.C. Department of Transportation might yield to all the honked-off Beaufortonians.
Concerned merchants and civic leaders assembled Friday to discuss how local businesses might cope with road closures that were to begin Monday. When they arrived, Beaufort city manager Scott Dadson informed them the DOT had postponed the paving that made the closures necessary.
"The last we were informed is that the schedule may change," Dadson said Friday at The Arsenal, where the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Beaufort, USA conducted the forum. "I don't know what that change may be."
DOT and city officials are to meet Monday to discuss the new paving schedule.
Dadson said city officials were told in June that work in the city would happen sometime between during August or September, but specific dates were not given. Then on Aug. 12, the city received the schedule for the federally funded milling and paving work.
The plan was to close the downtown shopping and historic district to vehicles for several days.
Community reaction was swift.
Many said they preferred the work be done after Labor Day instead of before -- Dadson said the city will ask DOT if that's possible -- and many wanted the paving to be performed at night. Parking, altered traffic patterns, and access to businesses and schools were among the concerns voiced at Friday's forum.
Work to re-pave Charles Street between Bay and Boundary streets was to begin Monday. The portion of Bay Street between Hamar and New streets -- a major commercial artery through the Downtown Historic District -- was to be closed for three to five days starting Aug. 26.
Other re-paving projects were set for September.
Even when the work is rescheduled, road closures will be unavoidable, those at the forum agreed. They discussed ways to curb the effect -- from free parking, to a block party, to golf cart rides for shoppers who have to park blocks away.
"A lot of what we're talking about right now might be a moot point," said Kevin Cuppia, who owns Modern Jewelers on Bay Street.
Additional street closures for similar projects are planned later this month and in September, but those dates could change, as well. Streets that could be closed sometime between Sept. 4 and 20 include a section of Lafayette Street in Pigeon Point, from Audusta Street to the point where Lafayette curves southward. Work during that time also was to occur on Waddell Road, between Battery Creek and Talbird roads; and on Battery Creek Road, between Allison and Mossy Oaks roads.
Between Monday and Oct. 19, motorists should anticipate lane closures on Ribaut Road between Boundary Street and Lenora Drive. Medina's Hauling Inc. has a contract with S.C. Department of Transportation for drainage pipe cleaning. Work will be done between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m. and is not related to the federal paving project.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.