After more than seven years of planning, the city of Beaufort can now begin spending millions of dollars to recreate Boundary Street.
City Council approved an agreement for a $12.6 million federal grant for the project during a special meeting Tuesday night. Once Beaufort County Council and the Federal Highway Administration sign off, the spending -- and the work -- can begin, according to city finance director Kathy Todd. The grant was announced in December.
Council also agreed to follow the county's purchasing policy when using the grant money to help avoid spending "inconsistencies," Todd said.
The county and city are co-managing the project and each will have specific responsibilities, she said. Because of the way the grant is structured, some purchases have to go through the city while others go through the county, Todd said.
The county is the local planning agency for transportation projects on state-owned roads, city manager Scott Dadson explained.
"This simply squares everything up from an accounting perspective, from a procurement perspective, who is in charge of getting what," he said.
Beaufort also has about $13.7 million in matching local funds, most from a penny sales tax approved about the same time as the project plans in 2006.
Designs call for a narrower Boundary Street with medians, bike paths, a more pedestrian-friendly sidewalk and plants and trees. A parallel road will run on the north side of Boundary. City officials are seeking state construction permits for the project, and work could begin in fall 2013.
Work will probably begin near the intersection of Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street and continue west to Ribaut Road, according to initial plans.
The federal grant money will go toward some of the initial work -- construction, improving intersections and rights-of-way purchases. Todd said it's important to define a policy and spending plan early so the various "pots of money" can be spent "without overlap or confusion."
The county's purchasing policy is much more comprehensive than the city's. It requires bids or proposals for most contracts over $25,000.