Paving and closures of the main road through downtown Beaufort's shopping district might not take as long as expected â€" if the weather cooperates.
Originally scheduled for as long as five days the week before Labor Day, the closure of Bay Street has been whittled to as few as two days, according to S.C. Department of Transportation commissioner Jim Rozier.
Rozier called DOT district engineering director Robert T. Clark to negotiate the shorter time frame last week. Rozier had been contacted by Charles Aimar Jr., manager at Rossignol's gift store, after Aimar learned that work was expected to take as long as four days.
"I called and talked with Robert (Clark), and we agreed to change the schedule and close it for two days, with weather cooperating," Rozier said.
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Attempts Friday to reach Clark for comment were unsuccessful.
Rozier did not know details about how DOT's contractor would accelerate the schedule. However, work requiring the closure of Bay Street would begin Sept. 3 and end the following day, if all goes well, he said.
City public works director Isiah Smalls said the DOT will probably first close and work on the three-block area of Bay between Charles and Carteret streets. Work scheduled for other areas of Bay Street would follow.
An updated schedule has not been released. The last dates the city received from the DOT for paving, milling and road striping throughout the city are:
The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Beaufort, USA, are working on plans and events to assist merchants and residents during the work.
The chamber is providing free space at The Arsenal and its office building, both at the corner of Craven and Carteret streets, to any downtown business that needs meeting space. A "paving party" and various construction sales are being planned to draw people to the area despite the inconvenience.
Sandwich board signs will be placed next to road closure signs to let potential customers know businesses are open, even if the road is not, and Main Street Beaufort will sell $2 tokens to anyone â€" not just its members â€" for all-day parking in the lot at West and Port Republic streets.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.