Does Hilton Head need another traffic light on US 278? The state and town looked at the data.

84% of drivers speed on US 278 on Hilton Head. Should the speed limit be lowered?

A December 2018 study on Hilton Head found that 84 percent of drivers speed on U.S. 278. Here are the rest of the results to that study.
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A December 2018 study on Hilton Head found that 84 percent of drivers speed on U.S. 278. Here are the rest of the results to that study.

Nearly two years after Long Cove Club residents first raised concerns about safety at the entrance to the community from U.S. 278 on Hilton Head Island, town leaders and the S.C. Department of Transportation have decided the area doesn’t need a traffic signal.

Long Cove Club is a gated community on the southern end of the island near Wexford and Shipyard Plantations. Long Cove Club Drive intersects U.S. 278 only on the west side of the highway. The entrance to Central Church is on the other side of U.S. 278.

On Monday morning, the town’s community services and public safety committee agreed with town staff that there aren’t enough cars entering U.S. 278 at the intersection to warrant a traffic signal.

In addition, SCDOT engineers said in a letter that there is no clear pattern of collisions that could be prevented with a traffic signal.

“Our review revealed two collisions were reported; one in 2015 and one in 2018. Both collisions were left-turn collisions, involving vehicles turning left from US 278 onto Long Cove Drive,” the letter said.

The nearest signal to Long Cove Club is 800 feet to the south at the entrances to Shipyard and Wexford plantations from U.S. 278, a letter from SCDOT said. The town’s comprehensive plan suggests there shouldn’t be a traffic light within 1,500 feet of another on U.S. 278, according to town staff.

When David Ames, a town council member and representative of Long Cove, originally asked for a traffic study at the intersection in December 2017, Town Manager Steve Riley said the town agreeing to pay for such a study would set a “precedence of what should be a private party’s responsibility to collect data,” according to the approved minutes from the meeting.

Long Cove Club entrance

Council voted unanimously to have Long Cove collect the data needed for a traffic signal study, but also said it would approve a reimbursement of up to $2,000 for the study, according to the minutes.

On Monday, town finance director John Troyer said Long Cove Club had not yet applied for any reimbursement for the study.

“It’s unusual that they would offer a reimbursement, but there hasn’t been any action here,” he said.

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Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.