In the audience at Hilton Head Island meeting on Monday was a man in a suit, tie and a rubber chicken head.
He was at the town council’s public safety committee meeting with his south end neighbors advocating for speed bumps along Point Comfort Road.
Locals know Logan Cambron, a Point Comfort resident, as the Chicken Man because he often sports a chicken suit, radar gun and sign that reads “slow the cluck down.” His goal: Make others aware of the reduced speed limit, which dropped to 25 mph in November.
“I’ve been sitting out there with the radar for so long I can tell you how fast (a car is) going just by the sound of it,” he said, agreeing with others that most drivers reach 45 mph, 20 mph over the limit.
Town engineers told the committee that adding speed bumps along the road would cost about $50,000. Town staff originally did not recommend the plan, but the committee — three of the seven council members — disagreed and sent it to the full council for consideration.
Point Comfort Road’s speed limit was reduced from 30 mph in November 2018 after Cambron’s repeated efforts to persuade the S.C. Department of Transportation to cut the speed limit 5 mph.
A popular sunset spot
Town engineer Jeff Buckalew said the town staff did not recommend the traffic project because the Point Comfort area is a dead end.
“There’s no cut-through traffic, so most of the motorists, the ones speeding, live there, are visiting or are repairmen,” Buckalew said.
Point Comfort residents disagreed.
Tom Risher, the neighborhood’s POA president, said tourists looking for the Black Marlin restaurant and Palmetto Bay Marina — both at the base of the Cross Island Parkway and accessible by Arrow Road — often end up speeding around Point Comfort when their GPS systems go awry.
The neighborhood also faces southwest, which Risher said makes it a popular spot on the island to watch the sunset.
14 speed bumps in the neighborhood?
Engineers originally presented a design with 14 to 15 speed bumps in the area, which surprised Point Comfort residents. While Buckalew spoke, many shook their heads.
“Fourteen to 15? That’s not what we’re requesting,” Risher said. “We’re requesting three.”
He suggested that three traffic-calming speed bumps would be more appropriate along Point Comfort Road, which he said would dramatically reduce the project’s cost and make the area more accessible to emergency services.
Fire Marshal Joeheida Fister said three speed humps would not greatly affect fire rescue’s response time.
Others in the community worried about safety issues, especially with so many children in the neighborhood.
Michael Berry said he watches his 14-year-old daughter’s every move when she leaves the house and walks across the road to her friend’s house.
“Could you live like that?” he asked the committee. “We can sit here and talk about statistics, but all it takes is one second for that statistic to turn the wrong way. We’re trying to prevent that.”
Who should pay for it?
Since the SCDOT owns Point Comfort Road, the town has to apply for the speed humps, not the POA.
The engineering department’s original plan with 14 speed bumps would cost around $50,000. Risher said the POA would be willing to pay for three speed bumps at around $3,500 each.
Committee member and Ward 5 representative Tom Lennox appeared to support that idea — he said if the council voted to fund it, other neighborhoods may be more likely to ask the government to pay for their speed impediments.
But committee chair and Ward 1 representative Marc Grant said the POA paying for the speed bumps would create a government “based on socioeconomic status” by making citizens who pay taxes also separately fund a project.
“Those who can afford to pay will pay for speed bumps,” Grant said. “(and) those who can’t won’t.”