Beaufort News

Walkers get a 'brake' with new downtown crosswalk signs

New crosswalk signs have been installed at a Beaufort intersection where two pedestrians were struck by a vehicle earlier this year.

The addition is one of several aimed at making downtown safer for walkers, the city said.

Pedestrian crossing signs were placed in the middle of the road near the intersection of Carteret and Port Republic streets, similar to ones already used on Bay Street in the heart of downtown. The intersection is used by hundreds of people each day and is a primary crossing point for residents of The Point neighborhood.

"As we continue to work to make Beaufort a better, more walkable small town, we are looking at ways to help the pedestrians without tying up vehicle traffic on Carteret Street," Mayor Billy Keyserling said.

The driver of a pickup truck was ticketed when he struck a Lady's Island couple as they crossed Carteret Street at about 7:25 p.m. Jan. 29. The 67-year-old man tried to push his 63-year-old wife out of the way as the Ford F-150 approached, witnesses said. Both were hospitalized, with the man spending time in intensive care at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Police Chief Matt Clancy said that although the incident was an isolated one, any move that brings awareness to the growing amount of foot traffic in the area would be helpful.

"The speed limit in that area is already low, but it's good to have something extra to make people aware of pedestrians," he said. "Every little bit of caution helps, especially when you have a tourist area that some drivers and pedestrians aren't familiar with."

Clancy did not have an update on the couple's conditions Monday, but said he believed they had been released from the hospital.

The improvements are part of a citywide effort. During recent small-group meetings to discuss ways to make Beaufort a better place as it celebrates its 300th birthday, many residents pushed for improved crosswalks, said Jon Verity, chairman of the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission.

"Some of the things we heard are going to take years to put in place, and probably a sizable investment. Upgrading the crosswalk at Carteret and Port Republic, which is between two very popular restaurants, was an easy and inexpensive fix," Verity said.

Crosswalks to the east and west of Port Republic, at Bay Street and at Craven Street, both have traffic lights with walk signals. The Craven Street signal includes a timer to inform pedestrians how much time remains to safely cross -- an upgrade that also will be featured at Bay and Carteret streets when a new traffic signal mast is completed.

Recent bad weather delayed the work, but crews now are expected to have the mast signal installed by the end of the month, city manager Scott Dadson said.

The S.C. Department of Transportation repainted the crosswalks on Carteret Street last year.