The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) has issued the permit for construction of the long-awaited, fully-funded section of the Spanish Moss Trail to cross from Smilax Avenue over Ribaut Road into the village of Port Royal.

The Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail have been working on this project for the past five years,” said Dean Moss, Volunteer Executive Director of the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail. “The importance of our nonprofit’s advocacy work cannot be understated. We have been a liaison for this essential section of the Trail among the multiple sales of the former State Ports Authority property. We are excited for the more than 100,000 people a year who will soon be able to enjoy this highly anticipated extension of the Trail.”

The permit issued by SCDOT will enable the Trail to follow the alignment of the old railroad. The Trailexpansion will start at Smilax Road where the current Trail ends and cross Ribaut Road with a pedestrian-controlled stop light called a HAWK signal. The crossing will be next to Pender Brothers and Martin Landscaping. The Trail will then continue down the old railroad right-of-way about ¼ mile until it reaches a private driveway coming in from Ritter Circle. From there, the Town of Port Royal and the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail will install appropriate signage to direct Trail users into the Village, the Sands Beach and other Port Royal shopping, dining and recreation attractions.

Because of the cost of crossing Ribaut Road, this section of the Trail is a relatively expensive section ofthe Trail. Its construction is being funded by a combination of sources including a State grant arranged by Rep. Shannon Erickson, a Beaufort County 3% Accommodation Tax Grant, the Town of Port Royal and significant private donations from the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail. The Beaufort County Engineering Department will be administering and overseeing the construction contract and bids for this project.

“We expect the County to solicit bids very soon,” said Moss. “The Friends of the Spanish Moss Trailwill continue our work to advocate and support the County’s efforts to move as quickly as possible and we are hopeful that construction will occur during the summer of 2023.”


What’s next in Port Royal?

There will be two more sections of the Trail in Port Royal. The Town of Port Royal will continue to work closely with the new developers of the former State Ports Authority property to continue the Trail through this waterfront property towards Shellring Ale Works and Fishcamp restaurants. Then, they will concentrate on bringing the Trail to its termination at the Sands Beach.

With more than 100,000 residents and visitors enjoying the Spanish Moss Trail each year, this rails-to-trail greenway is now one of the recreational centerpieces for Beaufort County. With a current 20-mile round trip experience for residents and visitors, the Trail offers a 12-foot wide, paved path, that is dedicated to pedestrians and bicyclists. The continued success of the Spanish Moss Trail is made possible through the FSMT with a network of sustainable partnerships, local government participation, and the generous funding from community-minded individuals. To support the efforts of the Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail, tax-deductible checks can be made payable to: Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail (P.O. Box 401, Beaufort, SC 29901) or online at Formore information on the work of the FSMT and easy navigation to the Trail, people can download the free Mobile App, The Spanish Moss Trail Mobile Guide (available on Apple Store and Google Play).