By Mindy Lucas
The City of Beaufort is applying for a federal community block grant to extend the Spanish Moss Trail to Ribaut Road.
If approved, the city would receive $200,000 that would enable it to widen the current sidewalk on Depot Road to create a multipurpose path for both pedestrians and bike riders similar to one on Boundary Street.
The new path would give a safer connection to downtown neighborhoods and other areas, city officials and proponents of the project said at the Sept. 8 Beaufort City Council meeting. The meeting also included a public hearing on the project.
City officials were made aware of the possible funding only recently and were given a short turn around time to apply for the grant if interested, Beaufort City Manager Bill Prokop said.
If approved, the project would be funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce specifically given to cities and counties for such infrastructure projects.
A 10 percent required match would be covered through funding already secured through the penny sales tax referendum and approved by voters in 2018. No money would come out of the city’s operating fund, council members noted.
Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail, who proposed a similar connector to downtown Beaufort in 2017, have endorsed the application for the extension.
In addition, the group proposed that a citizen’s task force be formed to investigate additional routes that would bring the trail further in to the popular Bay Street area, said Friends’ volunteer Executive Director Dean Moss.
The grant would only fund the Depot Road connector and would stop at Ribaut Road, officials noted at the meeting. City council voted unanimously to move forward with the match commitment.