City of Beaufort officials have once again turned their attention to a one-block section of North Street and an adjoining park downtown, and are returning to an idea from 2001 to make the road one-way.
The intent is to reduce traffic, increase parking and create a more walkable park in the area between Adventure and Bladen streets, planning director Libby Anderson said. The $269,000 project could be rolled in with the Bladen Street beautification project already under way. A S.C. Department of Transportation grant for Bladen Street could contribute $200,000 of the costs, if the city pays the rest.
Council granted initial approval by a 4-1 vote, with councilman George O'Kelley opposed.
North Street is a two-way road that runs east to west. It merges for about a block with Bay Street, which follows the bend of the Broad River. Then North breaks off at Adventure Street in a path that can cause traffic problems, Anderson said.
A triangular strip of land called Horse Trough Park is located where North and Bay streets separate. The project would narrow North to one lane, headed west, add parking on the side of the road and expand the park. Instead of pavement, North would be bricked over as it was originally.
The plan drew mixed reaction from both council members and nearby property owners.
Councilman Mike Sutton believes the traffic problems would be better addressed if North was one way running east, not west as proposed.
O'Kelley is concerned that he's heard a variety of plans to close the road or make it a one-way. O'Kelley and Mayor Billy Keyserling met with many of the nearby property owners previously about the proposed plan.
"Do you know what we're doing?" O'Kelley asked. "We're being asked to approve money for a plan that isn't completed."
Residents who spoke mainly supported the idea of a quieter road and more green space but had concerns about multiple stop signs and how Bay and North streets would link.