Who owns the rail trail corridor?
Beaufort Jasper Water Sewer Authority (BJWSA) acquired the railroad right-of-way from Port Royal, SC to Yemassee, SC in November 2009 for a cost of $3 million to use as a utility corridor. In January 2011, BJWSA granted a surface easement to Beaufort County to develop 13.6 miles of the corridor as a recreational trail.
Will all of the corridor be converted to a trail?
Not entirely. BJWSA granted Beaufort County an easement to develop 13.6 miles of the trail from Ribaut Road in Port Royal to the Whale Branch River. The County will focus first on the development of this section. BJWSA granted an 11.8 mile easement to the Trust for Natural Wildlife Habitats to preserve as a natural wildlife corridor between the Whale Branch River and the Town of Yemassee. Extension of the trail north of the Whale Branch River will require coordination with the Trust. The rail corridor south of Ribaut Road in the Town of Port Royal is owned by the South Carolina Ports Authority and is for sale along with the other parcels that make up the 51 acre Port property. The Development Agreement between the Town and the Ports Authority stipulates the development of a new street and trail along the trail corridor that would extend the trail to the site of the former port. Click here for a map.
Is the trail open to the public?
The trail is currently closed to the public. BJWSA is in the process of removing the rails, ties, and ballast and has heavy equipment along the corridor. In addition, the bridges along the trail are hazardous because they lack decking and railings.
How do I, as a Beaufort resident, get involved in this project?
Monitor this website for updated information. The rail trail development process is still in it’s infancy. Listed below are some initial steps that are underway:
- The City of Beaufort plans to host a series of public workshops (charettes) to be held toward the end of September. As a result of these meetings, we hope to get a visual master plan for the trail, identify where the trail heads are; address the issue of appropriate material and usage of the trails; and gain more avocates for the trail.
- The Northern Beaufort County Regional Plan Implementation Committee voted on 6/24/2011, to support the formation of a rail trail steering committee. The proposal was to form a steering committee consisting of a representative from the County, City, and Town, Beaufort Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, and an avocacy group member and/or neighborhood participant.