Boundary Street drivers had a lot to digest Monday.
The new Beaufort intersection at Robert Smalls Parkway opened to traffic late Sunday night.
At Chick-fil-A, one of the most popular destinations in the area, some drivers turned right on Boundary Street, left at the new light on Polk Street and used the Walgreens parking lot to reach the fast-food establishment. They reversed their steps to leave.
The interchange is a key element of the Boundary Street project.
Robert Smalls now connects with Boundary Street west of the previous location and is currently only a three-way intersection — it will eventually be four way — and doesn’t yet connect through to the north side of Boundary Street.
During Monday’s lunch hour, traffic waiting to turn left onto Robert Smalls had backed up in the left lane almost to the K-Mart shopping center.
A new traffic light also was turned on at Polk Street and Beaufort Plaza just before Walgreens, headed away from downtown.
The new orientation means no traffic-light access at Chick-fil-A. Drivers needing to turn left on Boundary Street from the restaurant were cutting through behind Walgreens to the light at Polk.
City officials are aware of drivers using the Walgreens parking lot and don’t encourage it, Boundary Street consultant Sammy Negron said. Crews are working to open the section of First Street behind Chick-fil-A and Walgreens.
That work could take about three months.
There is no timetable for connecting the Robert Smalls intersection with First Street, Negron said, except that the work will be done by the end of the project in 2018.
Angela Morgan only recently started her job in sales at Farmers Home Furniture in Beaufort but said she will be glad when the intersection is completed and Boundary Street work done. The new interchange will send cars right past the store’s front door.
A sign out front reminds customers the store is open and advertises a construction sale.
“I think it has affected business as far as getting in and out,” Morgan said. “People don’t want to take the chance of coming out because of construction.”