Taking the public out of public streets
Urban planners say that interconnected local streets are a great way to improve the flow of traffic, but when lots of people take to cutting through residential neighborhoods, complaints often follow.
In North Charleston, the crush of people trying to get more than 2,000 students and staff to five public schools in the same location each morning prompted the city to close the Cameron Terrace and Oak Park neighborhoods to school-bound through-traffic.
The same thing happened in Dorchester County in 2007, when school-related traffic cutting through the King’s Grant subdivision prompted through-traffic prohibitions and patrols by sheriff’s deputies.
A year earlier, Mount Pleasant sent police out to the Charleston National subdivision to stop some of the 1,150 Wando High School students with parking passes from cutting through the neighborhood to avoid traffic-choked U.S. Highway 17. Then-Councilman Joe Bustos even went up in a helicopter to get a bird’s-eye view of the situation, but the town didn’t go so far as to ban through-traffic.
In countless neighborhoods, from downtown Charleston to the suburbs, speed humps have been installed to prevent cut-through traffic from speeding. Through-traffic prohibitions are seen as a more extreme step that’s been used sparingly in the region, starting in 2005 with Charleston’s decision to restrict traffic on River Point off Folly Road.
Under South Carolina law, motorists are required to obey “traffic-control devices” such as signs prohibiting through traffic. North Charleston has a similar city ordinance, and in both cases the penalty is a $237 fine, plus court-related costs, and a hefty 4 points on the driver’s license.