Beaufort's long-awaited Boundary Street redevelopment project should officially break ground Jan. 4, though movement will be seen before then.
The $33.6 million project, meant to make one of the city's main thoroughfares more welcoming and spur development in the area, will begin this month surveying work, marking utilities and possibly removing buildings targeted for demolition. The redeveloped area will stretch more than a mile -- from Neil Road east of Robert Smalls Parkway to Greenlawn Drive near Outback Steakhouse.
The actual street work is expected to begin the first week of 2016, and the project should take two years.
"This is a fantastic project, and it's a monumental undertaking," project manager David Coleman said Tuesday. "Some days I wake up thinking I'm crazy; Some days I wake up thinking this is the opportunity of a lifetime."
The work is being paid for with $12.6 million in federal funding, local road impact fees, special city tax district funds and money from the county's 1 percent sales tax in 2006. Savannah-based contractor Preferred Materials Inc. was awarded the $18.7 million construction contract.
Here are some key things area residents and visitors need to know about the undertaking, from project manager David Coleman:
1. There will be no roundabouts
Early plans called for roundabouts, also called traffic circles, where Boundary intersects Ribaut Road in front of city hall and also at the intersection of Robert Smalls Parkway. Traffic studies showed a traffic circle at Robert Smalls to be impractical because of too much traffic. The circle at Ribaut Road has been postponed. The intersections will include traditional stoplights, and the Robert Smalls intersection will be reconfigured for better flow.
2. Four lanes will remain open weekdays and Saturday during construction
The S.C. Department of Transportation does not allow lane closures during daylight hours -- 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. -- during the week and on Saturday. Any lane closures will happen at night and Sundays and notices posted in advance, Coleman said. Traffic might be shifted during the week, and medians are expected to be removed, but four lanes will remain open during the day.
3. The completed project will still include four lanes
The work still calls for two lanes going each way, though 1-foot narrower and with concrete, landscaped medians. A parallel road will be built north of Boundary Street.
Intersections will include left turn lanes with green arrows, so that those needing to make a U-turn to reach a business can do so safely, Coleman said.
The new design will be safer and allow for more traffic, Coleman said. Traffic signals will be computer controlled and adjust based on traffic flow.
Emergency responders can activate green lights for the entire stretch.
4. Utilities will be buried
By the end of the project, all the power lines along the stretch will be underground. That work should be completed within a year, though Coleman said the power lines and poles could remain up for some time after that until the new utilities are connected and the poles can be cleared. New LED lighting will line the roadway. The buried lines will make the area more attractive, Coleman said, and will eliminate issues such as loss of power in the area due to car crashes.
5. The work is expected to improve stormwater quality
A new stormwater design will eliminate contaminates that leave the roadways and enter Battery Creek during heavy rains, Coleman said, and plans are in place to control runoff during construction.
He said the work will reduce the impervious area due to the landscaped medians and sidewalks that can absorb rain.
"This is a green project," Coleman said.
BOUNDARY STREET UPDATES
As work begins on Boundary Street, project manager David Coleman will hold weekly meetings with the public at 3 p.m. Fridays on the first floor of city hall. The first meeting is Dec. 4.
Updates will also be available on www.boundarystreetupdate.com.
Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.