Traffic too fast, residents say

In the Charleston neighborhoods that line Folly Road on the West Ashley side of Wappoo Creek, residents say it's as if there is a racetrack through the middle of the community.

They have been collecting petition signatures for another attempt at getting the state to lower the speed limit there.

"We've got people trying to cross the road, and mothers taking children to school, and it's scary," said John Hassell, who serves as neighborhood association president in Wappoo Heights. "No one in Wappoo Heights would be upset to see the speed limit lowered."

The same goes for residents of the Crescent and other neighborhoods along that stretch of Folly Road, said City Councilwoman Yvonne Evans.

The city previously asked the S.C. Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit, and the response was that it was unnecessary.

"It's more than necessary," Evans said. "'Terrified' is not too strong a word for residents trying to get out onto Folly Road."

Evans will ask the City Council today to adopt a resolution asking the state to again consider dropping the speed limit by 5 mph, to 35 mph.

The city can't force such a change because it's a state road.

The problem now, Evans said, is that the speed limit increases when traffic comes onto that stretch of Folly Road after crossing the Ashley River. Also, she said cars come roaring down the Burnet R. Maybank Bridge over Wappoo Creek.

Robert Clark, district administrator for DOT, said that if the City Council requests the speed limit change, the agency will conduct a review. He said the agency considered the same issue "at least once in the last year or two" and would see if any conditions have changed.

"There are lots of different indicators that we look at," he said. "What you want to is set a speed limit that is comfortable and appropriate to the drivers."

Neighborhood residents and city officials hope that the Transportation Department also will consider what is appropriate for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The Charleston County RoadWise program is in the midst of designing a program of sidewalk improvements and pedestrian and bike crossings for the area around the South Windermere shopping center, funded by the half-cent tax for transportation projects.

"We can't invite people to cross the road and have people coming along at racetrack speeds," said Evans.

She said the city and county considered building a pedestrian overpass over Folly Road but concluded it would be too expensive.

Evans said she'd like to see the speed limit reduced by at least 10 mph, but the resolution she's sponsoring calls for a 5 mph drop because she didn't think the state would agree to a larger reduction.