Beaufort News

Start date of Boundary Street project still uncertain

Traffic as seen at the intersection of Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street in Beaufort the afternoon of June 11, 2014.
Traffic as seen at the intersection of Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street in Beaufort the afternoon of June 11, 2014. Staff photo

The city of Beaufort's Boundary Street renovation is moving forward, but a potential snag could delay the start of construction, scheduled for this summer, to as late as 2015.

The $26.8 million project is intended to narrow lanes, landscape medians, and add sidewalks and bike paths along Boundary Street. City Council approved plans in 2006 that are being paid for with a $12.6 million federal grant and $13.7 million in local funds.

Beaufort County, which will help manage the work, sought bids for the project this spring, but the work might have to be rebid, county engineer Rob McFee said.

If that occurs, construction would likely not begin until late winter or early next year.

The bids the county received were valid until June 21, and a contract wasn't awarded earlier because the city was negotiating with utility companies over the cost of burying their lines along Boundary Street. Although City Council reached agreements with Hargray, CenturyLink and SCE&G a few weeks ago, a contract can't be awarded until the Federal Highway Administration approves the project, McFee said.

The highway administration wants to review the utility agreements, McFee added.

A contractor, which the city has not identified, has been asked to freeze its bid price until July 29, he said. Asked Friday if the contractor has agreed to do that, McFee would not answer.

If the contractor agrees and highway administration approval is granted before the new deadline, McFee said the project could move forward.

Meanwhile, city officials and staff are working on other parts of the project, including an update of the city's website and documents that describe the work to be done, city manager Scott Dadson said.

The final plan will look similar to the original one, but several aspects are being altered because of budgetary restrictions, engineering needs and design changes. Those include deletion of a traffic circle at the intersection of Boundary Street and Ribaut Road and changes to a marsh-side boardwalk.

Dadson has said construction will likely begin at the intersection of Robert Smalls Parkway and Boundary Street.

But McFee said the project is a complicated one, and details are still being worked out. "It is impossible to say at this time exactly where construction activities will begin with any level of certainty," he said.

Last October, McFee was optimistic construction could begin in January 2014 and be finished in June 2015. He did not have an estimated completion date Friday.

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