Boundary project rife with rumors

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By Kat Walsh

Rumors can often spread faster than cement can dry. That’s particularly true when it comes to the Boundary Street Redevelopment project.

However, many rumors about the project are not true, according to city officials.

The city of Beaufort recently published a document titled “Rumors and Facts” regarding the Boundary Street project. Here are some of those rumors and facts:

Rumor: The new Boundary Street will have traffic circles at Ribaut Road and Robert Smalls Parkway.

Fact: There will be no traffic circles at any point.

Rumor: The Beaufort Police are writing too many traffic tickets on Boundary Street.

Facts: The Boundary Street work zone sees about 38,000 vehicles per day, which translates to more than four million vehicles using Boundary Street since Jan. 1. Since that time, the police have issued 616 tickets for all traffic violations. That translates into 0.0003 percent of all vehicles.

Reduced speed limits are the norm for all construction sites nationwide. Additionally, the speed limit and work zone restrictions are heavily advertised.

Rumor: Traffic tickets are a big-time moneymaker for the city of Beaufort.

Facts: The state of South Carolina takes 60 percent of collected traffic fees.

The Beaufort Police Department and court have agreed to keep the fines in most cases at the minimum level of $185.63 vs. the legal limit of $445.

Data from two weeks in April show that 51 percent of vehicles in the Boundary Street work zone were traveling faster than 40 mph — where the speed limit is 35 mph.

Rumor: Beaufort city taxpayers are footing the entire cost of the Boundary Street construction project.

Facts: The construction is funded through three sources:

  • A Federal Highway Administration competitive grant of $12.635 million;
  • The Beaufort County 1-cent sales tax of $11.346 million;
  • And the city of Beaufort’s TIF II estimated contribution of about $8.223 million.

Other questions

The recent weekend closure of Boundary Street at Robert Smalls Parkway to accommodate storm drainage crossings  — with two additional closures requiring the same detour for the same reason — brings up additional questions about why these obstacles were not identified in previous studies.

John Williams, spokesman for the city of Beaufort, said, “Because some of the lines were built in the 1950s and 1960s and were buried beneath pavement that was paved over several times, the contractor and engineers expected a few surprises — they just couldn’t tell where or when they’d find them.”

The next anticipated closure will tentatively be the weekend of July 8, with another at the end of July after the Water Festival ends or in early August.

The Boundary Street Redevelopment project, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, will feature improved intersections with traffic signals, left-turn lanes, a landscaped middle median and sidewalks and pathways for pedestrians.

For residents and visitors, improved safety for drivers and pedestrians, a more visually attractive roadway and safer access to businesses are some of the promised results.

Until that time, patience is key, say city officials.

“I understand that this will take time and I appreciate everyone’s patience,” said Mayor Billy Keyserling. “In the meantime, if you see anything we can do to make things better, let us know. Basically, if you see something, say something, and we will see what we can do.”

Top photo: Bumper-to-bumper traffic makes its way through all-too-familiar traffic barricades recently as the Boundary Street road construction project continues. Photos by Bob Sofaly.

An old road sign lies with the rest of rubble in a holding yard at Boundary Street and S.C. 170 near Beaufort Plaza.
An old road sign lies with the rest of rubble in a holding yard at Boundary Street and S.C. 170 near Beaufort Plaza.