Public Safety Committee to urge Town to lower speed limits

Roads into Highlands and unmarked roads throughout the outskirts of Town may give the Larry Leadfoots out there reason to hit the brakes after the Public Safety Committee voted to recommend slowing things down, especially on unmarked roads.

“If it doesn’t have a center line it should be less that 20-25 mph,” said Town Engineer Lamar Nix. “You can’t go fast on those roads, they are not designed for two-way traffic. And if it’s a pedestrian area it should be 15 [mph].”

Areas in question are the unmarked roads without center or edge lines and the entrances into Town. Coming from Franklin into Highlands, posted limits go from 50 mph to 25 mph. Coming from Cashiers it goes from 40 mph to 25 mph, and from Dillard it’s 40 to 35 mph. The Public Safety Committee will make their recommendation to the Board of Commissioners at the next Town Board meeting on June 20.

“Franklin Road and Hwy 106 coming into Town are too fast,” said Highlands Police Chief Bill Harrell. “One of our busiest intersections is 35 [mph], and let’s be honest, most people are going 45 [mph]. Anytime you’re at a pedestrian sidewalk it needs to be 25 [mph].”

He added that on Hwy 28, one lane is posted at 25 mph, and the oncoming lane is 40 mph.

Committee Members agreed speed limits need to be decreased and marker signs should be posted where needed.

“This would clean it up and put a number on everything,” said Nix.

Public Safety Committee members said can be difficult to slow down to 25 mph coming into Highlands when the limit goes from 50 to 25 mph in a short span of distance.

What streets will be affected?

The Town does not have the authority to post speed limits on private, State, or Department of Transportation roads. The Town’s current Traffic Schedule is a list of roads and speed limits that is out of date and includes several State, DoT, and private roads. Nix said this needs to be replaced with the Powell Bill Map that is a list of all the streets in Town, is updated annually, and is used by emergency services.

“The Powell shows us what streets we can put speed limits on,” said Nix. “It needs to replace the Traffic Schedule maintained by the Town Clerk.”

Part of the plan is to mark many of the roads on the outskirts of Town with signage, paint lines where needed, and lower speed limits in certain areas yet to be determined. Only the white and black state speed limit sign is officially recognized. Driving through neighborhoods with “18.5 mph” are suggested speed limits and are not enforceable.

Harrell added that regardless of whether it’s a private, State, or DoT road, drivers are required to call 911 in case of an accident.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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