Drivers in Bluffton may soon have to tap the brakes a little more as they enter the heart of Old Town.
A bill lowering the speed limit along a stretch of Boundary Street from 25 mph to 15 mph is expected be taken up by state lawmakers again this year. Because Boundary Street is a state-owned road, the town cannot make speed limit changes on its own.
The proposal would slow traffic between May River Road and Bridge Street, which is home to the town's visitor center at the Heyward House and the popular Dubois Park.
"It's a tight street," Mayor Lisa Sulka said Monday. "There are always kids running around the park, so (speeding is) really a safety concern."
Maya Leonard, who was visiting the park with her daughter Monday afternoon, said the proposal is a good idea.
She said she has "seen some close calls" with kids running out into the street near the playground.
"I just hope (if the speed limit is lowered), drivers pay attention to it," Leonard said.
Sulka said speed limit reduction would also "make (the area) more walkable for tourists and residents," which has long been a goal for town leaders.
Support from state leaders could "help set a precedent" for lower speed limits along other Old Town streets like May River Road, which is poised for major streetscape improvements later this year, Sulka said.
With a decision last year to drop the speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph along portions of Dr. Mellichamp Drive and Boundary Street, the S.C. Department of Transportation "allowed us get closer to where we need to be," Sulka said. "But we still aren't quite there yet."
"We have to play by DOT's rules and follow their procedures, which can be a long process," she said.
Sulka said she hopes support from state lawmakers will help kick that process into high gear.
The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by six Beaufort County legislators, was passed without opposition by the House last year. The Senate is expected to take up the bill this year.
If passed, SCDOT would be responsible for putting up signs informing drivers of the new speed limit.
Follow reporter Lucas High on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Lucas.