Tybee Island mayor discusses challenges, progress in 'State of t - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tybee Island mayor discusses challenges, progress in 'State of the City' address

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

As the weather warms up, Tybee Island leaders are preparing for the season that brings thousands to their city.

Meanwhile, the promise of a safer Highway 80 is still top-of-mind for many residents.

Those were just some of the issues covered in the mayor's "State of the City" address Thursday night.

Tybee has no doubt seen a lot in the past year from public safety challenges to infrastructure growth. Mayor Jason Buelterman told WTOC that Thursday night’s report was about stepping back and looking at the big picture when it comes to what they've accomplished, as well as the challenges that are still ahead for Tybee Island.

Among the accomplishments, the mayor highlighted the replacement of old water and sewer lines throughout the island.

He also touted securing state funds to remove an old iron sea wall that has injured swimmers on North Beach, that construction is still underway.

But a continuing challenge is staffing their police department and ocean rescue during the busy summer season.

"So we hire people that do end up working full time, but on a seasonal basis. So what we've done to address that is just pay them more," said Buelterman.

But he says by far the biggest issue facing the island is making Highway 80 safer.

"It's frustrating because it's outside city limits, it's on federal land, it's a state highway,” said Buelterman. “So even though it affects Tybee more than anybody else, obviously, it's not controlled by Tybee."

That means the most they've been able to do is apply pressure at the state and federal levels, but the mayor says a resolution is in sight and construction could begin in three to five years.

U.S. Congressman Buddy Carter says he's confident in that timeline, especially now that the Lazaretto Creek Bridge has been deemed unsafe.

"We had representatives from the Department of Transportation in my office in Washington less than a month ago, and they made certain that we understood that this was high priority and that we understood that it's got to be done,” said Rep. Carter.

Another note from Thursday night’s meeting: It looks like those North Beach restrooms that have been under construction will be ready just in time for summer.

The new bathroom building is set to be finished by mid- to late-May and will include a concession stand as well. The $1 million project was paid for with county SPLOST funds.

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