JONESVILLE — Even though the speed limit within the town has been increased from 25 mph to 30 mph, motorists are still advised to obey it as the Jonesville Police Department is enforcing the new, higher speed limit just as it did the old, lower one.
The new speed limit is the result of a study of the town’s traffic patterns by the SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT). The study was initiated at the request of Jonesville Police Chief Jimmy Kimbrell in response to concerns about the number of times the speed limit changed beginning at the town’s municipal limits.
“I had several people voice concerns about the speed limit dropping three times within a quarter of a mile,” Kimbrell said. “It dropped from 45 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour when the four-lane section of the highway merged with Main Street and then dropped again to 25 miles per hour.”
Kimbrell said the main reason the speed limit dropped to 25 mph within the town was due to the presence of Jonesville High School on Main Street and Jonesville Elementary School on Alman Street. Jonesville High School has since been merged with Union County High School while the elmentary school is now part of the new Jonesville Elemtentary/Middle School on New Hope Church Road across US 176.
With the main reason for the lower speed limit eliminated and in response to the concerns presented to him, Kimbrell said he took the matter before the Jonesville Town Council in 2011 and at their direction contacted the SCDOT about studying the matter. Kimbrell said he then met with two SCDOT engineers in what was the beginning of the study process that included a review and analysis of the number of intersections involved, the number of businesses operating along Main Street, and the amount of pedestrian traffic. As a result of the study, Kimbrell said the SCDOT determined that it would be safe to raise the speed limit within the town to 30 mph.
As a result of that decision, Kimbrell said the speed limit on Main Street from the intersection of Alman Street to just before the Union County EMS Medic 5 station on SC 9 is now 30 mph. The speed limit rises to 45 mph when Main Street merges with SC 9 north of the town and with SC 18/SC9 to the south.
In discussing the new speed limit, Kimbrell also discussed the issue of the public’s perception that the speed limits in a small town are designed so as to function as a “speed trap” to raise revenue for the town. He said this wasn’t true, that speed limits both within and without a municipality are determined by the SCDOT and enforced by law enforcement agencies like his in accordance with South Carolina law.
“Small towns get labeled as speed traps but South Carolina has an absolute speed limit law and if you’re traveling above that speed limit then you are speeding,” Kimbrell said. “We use common in our enforcement but enforcement efforts are not about issuing tickets to collect revenue for the town. Our enforcement efforts are about saving lives and making sure we have a safe town for everyone who lives here and everyone passing through. We’ve never had any serious collisions or fatalities here in Jonesville and that’s something we’re very proud of.”