SCDOT Commission hears, sees historic Beaufort planning
Highway Commissioners meeting in Beaufort last week learned how city leaders are preparing forBeaufort’s fourth century — includingtransportation options beyond roadsand cars.“We’re going back to the original cityplanners,” Beaufort Mayor Pro TemDonnie Beer told the South CarolinaDepartment of Transportation Boardof Commissioners, meeting in BeaufortCity Hall. “Our plans are to redevelop and in fill our city … rather than buildingout, we are going to build in.”Beaufort City Council and theBeaufort Redevelopment Commissionare working with residents, propertyowners, developers and businesses toturn the city’s updated comprehensiveplan into reality.“Therelationshipbetweentransportation and roads is key to thesuccess of the residential and commercialrealms,” Beaufort City Manager ScottDadson said in his welcoming remarksto the Highway Commission.Demetri Baches, who heads up theCity’s Office of Civic Investment, helpedlead a recent three-month public reviewof downtown Beaufort’s challenges and
opportunities.“Beaufort is already a walkablearea, so we have a lot of opportunitieswith improved sidewalks, pedestriancrossings, bike routes and walking trailsto encourage residents to walk as analternative to driving,” Baches said.With the Heritage golf tournamentunderway on Hilton Head Island,Baches pitched the idea of a water taxibetween Beaufort and Hilton Head toreduce road congestion; provide fastertransport and unique, relaxing travel;and to create an economic opportunityfor day trippers in both locations.“We are not trying to become the nextCharleston or Savannah — we haveplenty of wonderful and unique aspectsright here to make downtown Beauforta destination for travelers, for residentsand for commercial development,” hesaid after the meeting.During the recent charrette fordowntown Beaufort, ideas surfaced— and, in some cases, resurfaced —on ways to improve Beaufort. Ideasincluded:• Developing the Downtown Marinaparking lot as an extension of the HenryC. Chambers Waterfront Park;
• Making Port Republic Street two-way to stimulate retail shopping;• Building a parking garage in the corecommercial area near Bay Street;• Finding innovative ways to blend anexpanding USC Beaufort campus intothe retail and residential life downtown;• And the possibility of creating on-street diagonal parking on BoundaryStreet between Charles Street andRibaut Road by reducing Boundary totwo lanes of traffic.“All of these initiatives are micromatters in relation to the macro issuesyou deal with,” Baches told the HighwayCommission. “Locally, we’re trying tomake sure we are ready to receive allthose people you are going to bring tous” with improvements to the state’sroads and highways.With roughly 2,000 people living in thedowntown area studied this spring, about500 participated in the public meetingsand presentations, Baches said.The S.C. DOT Commission usuallymeets in Columbia but occasionally takesits meetings to locations around the state.Craig Forrest, of Bluffton, represents theCongressional Second District whichincludes Beaufort County.