An unused railroad trestle over the Whale Branch River in northern Beaufort County has been converted into a handicapped-accessible fishing pier.
County public works crews began the project in December, chipping away as time allowed. They completed the work last week, and the pier off Seabrook Point Drive is now open to the public.
Crews graded and paved the abandoned Port Royal Railroad trestle and added fences to keep people from falling into the river. Bellamy said the job cost only about $18,000 for materials.
Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority owns the railroad right of way, which elsewhere in the county is being used to build the Spanish Moss Rail Trail. It gave the county an easement for part of the rail corridor that includes the trestle, raising liability questions should someone get hurt fishing off the trestle.
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"We had a choice. We either had to shut it down or we had to make it safe," Bellamy said. "Although it looks nice and we did a nice job, we really just did the minimal work we needed to do to make it a safe pier to fish from."
Two bridge spans that carried trains between the trestles were removed some time ago.
Seabrook-area residents have been fishing from the pier for generations, hauling in shrimp, crabs and other species from the salt water depending on the tides and the season.
"That's a fairly productive area down there," Bellamy said.
The new pier is one of more than two-dozen boat lands and fishing piers maintained by the county.
This pier has plenty of parking, including one spot for a handicapped van, Bellamy said. It will be closed from dusk to dawn.
Follow reporter Casey Conley at twitter.com/IPBG_Casey.