A generator hummed on Boundary Street as two men fit pieces of wood into a growing boardwalk Tuesday.
Arms of new traffic signals stretch across intersections, though some of the lights remain covered. Signs dotting the buildings beyond the orange and white construction barrels alert motorists that businesses are open during construction.
The barrels stretch down the middle of the road a mile, restricting left turns and reminding visitors there is still a lot of work left.
Officials overseeing Beaufort’s $33 million Boundary Street redevelopment say the project is on schedule and the budget is at the halfway point.
According to the most recent update from the city, the project is 49 percent complete and has used about 49 percent of what was budgeted to transform the four-lane highway by burying utility lines, removing power poles and creating raised, landscaped medians.
Drivers and business owners will endure the work at least another 12 months as work shifts to the north side of the street — the same side as Chick-fil-A and Beaufort Town Center.
“As we turn to the north side of the road, that is going to be the most complex, difficult part of the project,” said Neal Pugliese, a retired Marine colonel hired by the city last year as a senior project manager. “That is where all the businesses are located.”
Pugliese said he emails businesses weekly to let them know what will be happening. Tim Lovett, owner of outdoor retailer Higher Ground Outfitters on Boundary Street, said though he doesn’t read every update, he feels the city is doing enough to keep businesses informed.
Higher Ground’s sales numbers for 2016 through October were similar to the same period during 2015, before the project began, Lovett said. After Hurricane Matthew, numbers were down for the year, he said.
Complaints from customers have quieted since early on in the project, Lovett said.
“It seems people are figuring it out,” he said.
In 2017, drivers should begin noticing fewer power poles, and permanent raised medians will eventually replace the parade of orange barrels.
The underground bank to bury utility lines is complete on the south side of Boundary Street. Many of the utility poles on that side of the road should begin to come down by the middle of February, Pugliese said.
Work on the north side bank isn’t expected to be complete until the summer.
A boardwalk is being built along the marsh on Battery Creek. Several buildings are slated for demolition to help eventually create an open park space on the south side of the road, including the former Huddle House, United Way, Sea Eagle Market and fire department warehouse.
There is no timeline for the demolitions, but city officials expect the buildings down in the next six to eight months.
Completing the realigned intersection at Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street will be among the later tasks of the project. The new intersection is open but will eventually connect west of the Chick-fil-A and connect to a new-look First Street running parallel to Boundary.
Work is expected to be complete in early 2018.
“This is a complex project. I’d be surprised if we didn’t encounter a surprise or two,” Pugliese said. “Knock on wood.”