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Building a better Beaufort is the goal of a $30 million investment in Boundary Street to create a safer and more scenic entry to the city, provide better commercial and retail locations, and improve traffic conditions.
A financial impact analysis indicates the local economy will see $5 in benefits for every $1 invested in the Boundary Street Redevelopment District.
The project includes:
The work is part of a larger effort to reconfigure Beaufort from near the Marine Corps Air Station to annexed areas of Lady’s Island, thus creating a unified and connected neighborhood designed for people, not just cars.
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The Streetscape project will go from Neil Road to Greenlawn Drive. The utility work will extend to Ribaut Road. There will be no work done east of Ribaut Road.
The streetscape for the area between Greenlawn Drive and Ribaut Road will be done in the future when the City can secure funding.
Construction started in early January 2016. The entire project, approximately 1.5 miles including side road improvements, is expected to be substantially complete in 2018.
Project management will work to keep traffic disruptions to a minimum throughout this project, but some delays are inevitable. For daily updates, visit the Boundary Street Update page. Local media will be asked to share regular updates and announcements about lane closures or traffic pattern changes.
It is anticipated that a significant portion of the necessary work will occur at night to minimize traffic disruptions. The current lane-closure rules are:
To minimize impact on business along the construction path, it will be a priority for contractors to maintain access to driveways and store entrances throughout the project. Please pay extra attention when driving through the construction zone.
Currently, US 21/Boundary Street consists of two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction separated by a single 15-foot two-way left turn lane. The roadway serves approximately 40,000 vehicles per day.
The updated and improved US 21/Boundary Street will consist of two 11-foot travel lanes in each direction separated by a 17-foot raised landscaped median with a sidewalk on the north shoulder and 10-foot multi-use path on the south shoulder.
There will still be a total of four traffic lanes on Boundary Street, two in each direction. In an emergency, three, or even all four of the lanes, can be reconfigured to help people evacuate the area.
During construction, the speed limit will be reduced to 35 miles per hour for the safety of workers. Speeding fines may be increased, and enforcement is needed to ensure the safety of work crews in the work zone. Once constructions is over, the speed limit is expected to return to 40 miles per hour.
Numerous studies have shown roadways with divided medians to be significantly safer than roadways with center turn lanes. Publications such as the Highway Safety Manual (American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials) and the Access Management Manual (Transportation Research Board) cover these safety benefits in depth.
The median breaks are located to utilize the existing and proposed street network and parallel streets to form a complete network of interconnected blocks and streets. This plan is designed to improve traffic flow from Boundary Street to the various street alternatives.
Improving safety is a key point for this project. Adding the landscaped medians will make Boundary Street safer for drivers and pedestrians. Additionally, a side benefit is that it creates a more visually pleasing entrance to City of Beaufort and its National Historic Landmark District.
Landscaping will be designed to minimize maintenance costs.
A key vision for the Boundary Street Corridor is a network of walkable routes to be built north of Boundary Street. Along wider sections of Polk, there will be parallel parking on both sides of the street, narrowing to parking on only one side (the northern side) as the road moves closer to Ribaut Road. Sidewalks will be built.
In February 2012, a video classification of traffic was conducted and found that 98% of vehicles traveling the Boundary Street Corridor were passenger vehicles, 1.5% were single unit trucks, and less than 1% were combination tractor-trailers. The improvements for Boundary Street and South Carolina (SC) 170 are designed to accommodate single unit trucks and intermediate tractor trailers.
Periodic breaks in landscaping will allow for median crossings by emergency vehicles. Also, emergency responders will develop response plans that take into account the geometry of the improved road. The Beaufort Fire Department and Police headquarters are located near the intersection of Ribaut Road and Boundary Street, putting them extremely close to the affected portions of Boundary Street.
Traffic signals will include an emergency vehicle pre-emption system to improve response times, reduce potential for crashes and minimize obstructions to emergency vehicles along the corridor. This system coordinates green lights for responding emergency vehicles. Opposing and conflicting traffic lanes are given red lights.
In addition to these design features, the parallel road and system of gridded streets will be useful for emergency vehicle access. Also, the raised median doesn’t preclude the use of all four lanes for outbound traffic in times of evacuation.
The anticipated economic benefits to business owners along the improved section of Boundary Street Include:
Analysts expect a $5 benefit for every $1 invested in the Boundary Street Redevelopment District.
The total estimated cost to develop and build this important safety project is about $32 million. The Boundary Street Redevelopment Corridor project budget is funded through three sources:
The Boundary Street Redevelopment Corridor plans caught eyes at the federal level in 2011 as Beaufort earned the 16th largest Department of Transportation (DOT) grant that year and the largest in South Carolina history. Of the 848 applications for the TIGER III grant in 2011, only 48 were awarded funding; about 6% of the total applications received.
As a part of the National Environmental Policy Act, studies were conducted to assess for the possible effects of this project on the social, cultural, and natural environments. The project may require minimal amounts of bank stabilization along Boundary Street and will include construction of an elevated boardwalk along the marsh line of Battery Creek.
The project won’t result in permanent loss of aquatic function within the marsh or result in any adverse impacts to the natural environment. All necessary environmental certifications and permits will be obtained prior to construction of the project.