Brighter street lights that are easier and less expensive to repair are coming to downtown Beaufort in early 2014, but a portion of Bay Street's sidewalk will have to be demolished to install them.
The long-discussed lights have been ordered and a plan mapped out to ensure their beams overlap and eliminate dark areas, city planner Libby Anderson said. They will replace the familiar "candy cane" poles with a straight design already in place at City Hall and on Bladen Street.
The plan is to replace 65 poles and add another 13 on Bay, Carteret, Craven, Charles and Port Republic streets. There are currently no poles on Craven Street or on West Street between Port Republic and Craven streets, but that will change with the new lights.
The lights will emit a more natural, white glow, rather than yellow light. They are expected to be easier to repair, as well. It is difficult, expensive and time-consuming to get parts for the candy cane lights, Anderson said.
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The city expects to take bids for the installation work from Dec. 1 to 31, according to public works assistant director Lamar Taylor.
Installation will is expected to begin in mid-January, he said, and will start on Bay Street so that work there will be finished before the start of tourist season.
"There's going to be some disruption, but we're going to try to minimize it," Taylor said.
Because the underground utility conduit does not meet current electrical codes, the sidewalk will need to be demolished and rebuilt in some places, Anderson said. That will involve removing a 28-inch-wide strip of concrete, starting at the curb.
The city will replace that part of the sidewalk with brick if the project's budget allows.
Work should not interrupt regular business downtown, Taylor said, but the noisy, dusty demolition could cause concerns.
"Our goal is to get all the cutting done between 7 and 10 (a.m.) before the stores open," he said.
For the sake of efficiency and to keep the construction period to a minimum, no work will begin until the lights are delivered.
Main Street Beaufort, USA, executive director LaNelle Fabian encouraged her members to remain upbeat about the work and the resulting downtown improvement.
"Positive attitude is going to sell the project," Taylor agreed.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.