Monday, January 31, 2011

I-Traffic speed control serves valuable function

Bluffton Today

I had the honor of speaking before the Sun City Republican Club, along with my friend, Senator Tom Davis. I always relish the opportunity to speak at Sun City because it’s like homecoming for me.

Many of the folks have been friends and supporters since my first run for office almost a decade ago. They are the source of many of the good ideas that I have been able to turn into common sense regulation, as well as traffic infrastructure. Last week’s speaking engagement was so much fun it gave a new meaning to Republican “Party.”

In all seriousness, Tom and I gave our updates and spoke on what we hoped to accomplish during the current session. The questions, as always, were right on the mark. As usual, I came away with more than I was able to impart. We are so fortunate to have this community of engaged and informed older residents who are willing to actively participate in the political affairs of our region. Also, without the political clubs in Sun City, being a politician in the Lowcountry wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. Thanks, friends.

One of the contentious issues to arise early in the session has to do with the I-Traffic regime sponsored and operated by the Town of Ridgeland. There has been a lot written about the situation, but most of the commentary has been incomplete, at best. My initial take on the matter was to oppose what I viewed as something of an automated speed trap. After visiting with the mayor of Ridgeland and having a tour of the site, I changed my mind. There is some merit in what they are doing. If nothing else, they are having a positive affect on the number of traffic accidents and fatalities in their area of operation.

Consequently, when my delegation colleague Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, put up legislation to legalize and support the I-Traffic Ridgeland regime, both your representative and Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head, were happy to co-sponsor. The legislation makes practical good sense and will get a fair hearing in the house.

It also has almost no chance of passage. There is a bill in the senate that is directly opposed to the Erickson bill that is unlikely to pass as well.

We will, however, have an opportunity to debate before the house, another issue where we in the Lowcountry are not allocated our fair share of state resources. In this case, we are chronically short of S.C. Highway Patrol coverage. This is important because the I-95 corridor in the southern part of the state is, and long has been, among the most dangerous in the country. Our highway patrol personnel are highly trained, effective law enforcement officers, but we just don’t have enough along our portion of I-95.

Once again, we in the Lowcountry might as well be on the dark side of the moon as far as our being allocated state resources, regardless of our well-documented needs. We contribute much more than our share and receive much less than we need. The I-Traffic Ridgeland situation is their creative attempt to make the road safer and to reduce their costs in dealing with the consequences.

Somewhere in our legislative debate of this matter, I think we can combine the best features of the I-Traffic technology with more SCHP involvement, to reduce the carnage and the dollar costs, and restore a modicum of parity with other regions of the state.

Obviously, this is a complex issue and I need to hear from more of you.