More trimming is in store for trees in Beaufort and Port Royal, as the S.C. Department of Transportation is taking saws to branches that hang over streets.
Some trimming began last week on Hermitage Road and streets near Beaufort Elementary School, according to Wendell Mulligan, DOT resident maintenance engineer.
Heavier cuts will be made along Ribaut Road, between Lenora Drive and Allison Road. That work began Monday and will occur all week, Mulligan said. Additional trimming on side roads throughout the town and city will continue throughout the month.
"Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil that we have to do to keep people safe," Mulligan said.
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DOT is working with the town and city, Mulligan said. The department will make the first cuts to provide 18-foot clearance over roads, and crews with the town and city will follow behind to clean up those cuts to minimize harm to the trees.
Mulligan said he would like DOT to do that work on its own, "but we are having to operate with the budget and the manpower we have available."
"Everybody is pitching in to try and make limited dollars go further," he added.
The local DOT office has $140,000 this year for tree-trimming contracts, Mulligan said. An additional $10,000 to $20,000 in cuts will be performed by DOT crews, he said.
The state owns 530 miles of road in Beaufort County, and the local DOT office usually trims trees every five or six years. The cuts on Ribaut Road are being made ahead of schedule because of complaints about low-hanging limbs, especially near Lenora Drive in Port Royal.
Unlike trimming around utility lines, which reduces fire risk and provides room for linemen to navigate during repairs, DOT is trimming to provide a clear path for vehicles.
"We're working on both sides of the road, just catching the low-hanging limbs that are being hit by the large trucks and the mobile-home movers," Mulligan said.
Limbs within 18 feet of the road are being removed, except under special circumstances. "Significant" trees, such as large live oaks, may keep branches down to 14 feet above the road. The city of Beaufort and town of Port Royal have been working with DOT to identify those trees.
Landscape architect Liza Hill said the city of Beaufort already pruned several sensitive areas and will follow behind DOT to clean up cuts as necessary.
Side roads that will be trimmed include Washington, Heyward and James streets and Hermitage Road. Side roads off Depot Road and around Beaufort Elementary are also on the list.