By Jim Hicks
Traffic Management is a tough challenge on Lady’s Island. The right lane of Sams Point Road at the intersection with Sea Island Parkway has been designated a right turn only thus allowing right turns both on green and red (after stopping) lights.
Obviously, this facilitates a large volume of right turns but requires all vehicles passing directly through to the new four-lane Lady’s Island Drive to channel through the intersection on a single lane. The rational for this system is not complicated. A check with Mr. Colin Kinton, Beaufort County Traffic Engineer, confirms this system moves more traffic in a shorter amount of time then if the right hand lane allowed traffic both through the intersection and a right turn. The first vehicle desiring to cross the intersection and encountering a red light would deny all vehicles behind it an opportunity to turn right on a red light.
Kinton indicates they are looking into some traffic signal revisions at the Sam’s Point/Sea Island Parkway intersections, which they hope to complete in the next fiscal year, and will allow the existing right-turn-only lane to be used for both through and right turns, depending on the time of day. In other words, during the morning rush hour, it will be right-turn only. During lower volume times, it will be both through or right turns. If one travels down Lady’s Island Drive to the intersection with Ribaut Road, this problem is demonstrated by the right-hand lane allowing traffic to cross Ribaut and make a right-hand turn. When a vehicle stops for a red light with the intention of crossing the street, vehicles behind it often use the bicycle lane or the adjacent Filling Station parking lot to make right turns.
As we attempt to cope with an ever increasing amount of traffic, finding solutions becomes harder to develop. We are lucky to have Kinton, who not only does the traffic engineering but also manages the efficiency of the stop lights.