SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – If you’ve ever headed to Tybee Island for their 4th of July fireworks, then you know it can take hours to get off the island afterward.
This year, there’s a new plan in place to speed up the exit. Tybee’s beaches are where thousands will watch the annual fireworks display on Independence Day.
There is a new exit strategy in place with formulated with outside input according to City Manager Shawn Gillen.
“We sat down with the mediation with the Justice Department about coming up with objective criteria for identifying when we should do special types of controls in place on the island for some events that are sort of outside of our control: 4th of July, Orange Crush, things like that,” said Gillen.
The City of Tybee spent more than $100,000 for 700 new traffic barricades, plastic, and metal, to guide the traffic flow. The plan is to deploy the new traffic control tools in the morning on July 4th, when people arriving for a day at the beach are searching for prime parking
“Basically we’re gonna direct people to where the parking is available as quickly as possible,” Gillen said.
To expedite post-fireworks traffic flow off the island, Gillen says re-routing will begin before the fireworks light up the night sky on Independence Day.
“Just before the fireworks begin, we’ll start blocking off different streets on the south end,” he explained. “So areas south of Tybrisa Street will be directed down to Chatham Avenue to Jones Avenue and then people north of Tybrisa will be directed towards Butler and we’ll guide traffic that way.
“It’s still gonna be backed up, but there will be one lane of traffic either direction all the way to Butler Avenue, all the way to Jones Avenue.”
The city manager also shared some advice to motorists about avoiding the frustration of being one of as many as 8,000 vehicles caught up in the gridlock, waiting in line to head home, west on Highway 80.
“If you don’t have to rush off the island, I would say just go find a place to sit down and watch people or do whatever you need, maybe grab a bite to eat at some of the restaurants still open and just wait it out,” Gillen said. “Otherwise, you’re going to be sitting in your car for an hour or two as we try to get everybody off the island.”
He added that their 4th of July traffic plan was used during St. Patrick’s Day this year’s as well as the Orange Crush spring break event.
It’s the first time it’s being used on Tybee Island for the 4th of July.