A walking and biking path that follows an old railroad right of way in northern Beaufort County will next expand in a different direction, to connect Beaufort with Port Royal.
A grant from the James M. Cox Foundation will pay for part of the construction of the new leg of the Spanish Moss Trail, which will run from Allison Road to Ribaut Road.
Originally, that money was to pay for a northern section of the trail, but those organizing the trail effort preferred the southern stretch be built first.
Attorney David Tedder, Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail board member, said the Cox Foundation confirmed the grant could be used for the southern leg.
The first leg of the trail, a mile between Depot and Allison roads in Beaufort, was paid for with $567,000 from the Cox Foundation. Atlanta-based PATH Foundation managed the construction.
Beaufort County is working on a 2.1-mile section that heads north from Depot Road. That section could be paid for with a variety of sources, including about $260,000 in county accommodations-tax revenue.
The third leg was originally to continue the route north, but Tedder said this change will help tie the municipalities together.
"We really want to make the tie between the communities; that was the reason we started thinking about it," he said. "It makes better sense for us to get the community, city, town and county tied together before we head out toward (Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort)."
The Cox Foundation has agreed to match dollar-for-dollar money raised by the community -- up to $600,000 -- for the third leg. PATH officials are visiting Beaufort this week to confirm whether $1.2 million will be enough to reach Ribaut Road, Tedder said.
Fundraising for that matching grant has begun, said Friends executive director Dean Moss. He would not say how much has been raised.
"Raising money is not easy, and there are a lot of wonderful causes in this community, in this county, so we're doing our best to sell our cause and make people aware of it," he said.
He is optimistic construction will begin by fall and that the money will be raised by then.
Tedder said he expects this section to cost less than the first one, which included additional legal and engineering fees, as well as increased costs for a trestle.
Port Royal Town Council pledged to give $25,000 toward the grant on Wednesday. Tedder said the Friends group is seeking similar contributions from the county and city of Beaufort.