Photo above: About 35 miles of power and communications cabling are being buried in conduits along a 1-mile stretch of Boundary Street. Photo provided.
Although Beaufort’s Boundary Street Corridor Improvement project is just over 1-mile long, some 35 miles of power and communications cabling are being moved from aboveground poles to underground conduits.
The duct bank work – relocating the overhead lines below ground – is a major element of the $33 million construction project scheduled for completion in 2018. The change will create a safer driving environment as well as reduce the urban clutter, officials say.
“The duct bank is a huge part of this entire project, and it’s going to make a tremendous difference,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said. “Not only is it going to improve the view as you drive into our historic city, but it’s going to be safer for drivers and, we hope, help reduce power outages from downed lines.”
Of the 35 miles of cabling, approximately 5.5 miles belong to Hargray, 5.5 miles belong to CenturyLink, and 24 miles belong to SCE&G.
“The utility companies have been outstanding partners with us in this project,” said Neal Pugliese, director of public projects and facilities for the City of Beaufort. “It sounds simple to just move the lines off the poles and put them underground, but there’s so much more to it than that.”
Different types of cable serving different functions must be routed through separate conduits buried alongside Boundary Street. Those conduits typically are 4 to 8 feet below the surface.
Throughout the excavation on both sides of the road, crews have worked closely with all the utilities including Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority to avoid accidentally hitting or digging up active lines. This has been especially critical with fiber optic lines and those serving the 911 emergency dispatch system, Pugliese said.
“We have been sure to be very, very careful with the excavation for the duct bank,” he said. “Businesses and residents depend on their electricity and telecommunications and we have had to take it slow and steady to avoid any mishaps.”
Weather permitting, digging the duct bank along the northern side of Boundary Street should be complete in September, ending at Neil Road. At the same time, crews will be pulling cables into the underground conduits and then removing the overhead lines.
Even as construction continues on the duct bank, crews are beginning preparations to install a raised and landscaped center median. Other work still remaining includes finalizing the intersection by Chick-fil-A and activating a new traffic signal and turn lane at Carolina Cove.
“At this advanced point in the project, we are on budget and we are on schedule,” Pugliese said.
The Boundary Street Project is a $33 million initiative stretching from Neil Road to Sycamore Street at City Hall. A major element of the project is removing overhead power and communications lines into an underground duct bank, reducing urban clutter while creating a safer environment for travel.
The project also includes realigning the Boundary Street intersection with Robert Smalls Parkway, which was largely completed last summer. Work will continue in that area for several months prior to final landscaping, paving and striping.
For more information about the project, visit www.boundarystreetupdate.com.