Despite a few obstacles -- a safe pedestrian crossing for Ribaut Road and $500,000 in funding, for instance -- Spanish Moss Trail organizers are moving ahead with plans to extend the path into downtown Port Royal.
Neither challenge is tempering the enthusiasm of Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail executive director Dean Moss, who is optimistic construction of the Port Royal leg of the walking and biking trail could begin in late August or early September.
The trail is a joint project of the PATH Foundation of Atlanta, Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail, Beaufort County, Port Royal and the city of Beaufort.
About 3.3 miles of path currently stretches between Depot and Ribaut roads, while a 1.5-mile leg is under construction between Parris Island Gateway and Laurel Bay Road.
Construction of the 2 miles between Depot Road and Parris Island Gateway, being done by Beaufort County, is also expected to begin at the end of the summer.
Plans are underway to begin the conversion of the inactive railroad in Port Royal, on the southern half of Ribaut Road. That work will start with the clearing of rails and railroad ties.
That portion of the trail runs through land owned by the S.C. State Ports Authority, which is hiring a local business to do the work. Authority spokeswoman Erin Pabst could not say when the work would be finished or how much it would cost because a contract is still being negotiated.
The path will extend to 15th Street, which is as far as practical until the Port of Port Royal is sold and development plans made, Moss said. Long-term plans are to connect the trail to a Battery Creek waterfront boardwalk on the port property.
However, reaching 15th Street will connect the trail to the town's street grid and create easier access to attractions like Sands beach and the Cypress Wetlands.
Town manager Van Willis said a parallel access road to the east of the walking path also is planned.
The road crossing -- which has concerned Town Council members because of traffic on Ribaut -- is still being worked out with the S.C. Department of Transportation, Moss said. A pedestrian-activated signal is being considered for that spot, as well as the trail's intersection with S.C. 170. The permitting process for both signals is underway.
That leaves only the funding to be worked out, Moss said. There are no large commitments lined up for the Port Royal section, as there have been for other parts, but the Friends group is planning fundraisers
"The raising of the money is obviously the biggest challenge," he said.
Three local Rotary clubs have purchased six pet-waste stations, which are being installed along the trail. The stations include bags and a waste basket.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.