Hwy 80, beach renourishment key topics during Tybee mayor's State of the City address

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - Tybee Island's State of the City address Thursday night gave residents hope that solutions are coming to several life-threatening issues on the island.

Safety hazards on Highway 80, hurricane preparation, and money needed for it all.

With news of yet another dangerous hurricane season approaching, people leaving the Tybee Post Theater say this message was a sigh of relief; to an extent.

Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman broke down the state of Tybee into three main categories.

First, a disastrous route to even get to the city.

"We all know Highway 80 is a mess. It was poorly designed. It is ridiculously outdated and in need of serious work," Buelterman said.

Improvement demands in which Representative Buddy Carter has been on the receiving end.

"Jason has been a bulldog. He has been working with the DOT and insisting they do the right thing," Rep. Carter said.

The city will begin a repaving project that will be completed Nov. 1 between the Bull and Lazaretto Creek bridge. It will raise the road eight inches to help with flooding issues.

Mayor Buelterman says this is just a Band-Aid. The city needs two new bridges, but that would require funding from the state.

Their second mission. Dune reconstruction for hurricane protection.

"There isn't much we can do to stop high winds from damaging the island and its structures. However, we can take steps to minimize the damage from storm surge and flooding associated with hurricanes," Buelterman said.

A $4.8 million beach renourishment project already underway this week. The DNR also approved a permit to truck in sand between 16th & 18th streets, where WTOC showed you massive gateway to flooding during Hurricane Irma from our skycam.

Buelterman is pushing for homes on the backend of Tybee - the lowest lying area - to get federal grants and raise their homes.

"The federal government has allocated $20 million to the state of Georgia for this grant program. We are being, by far, the most aggressive entity in the state of Georgia in going after these funds for our homeowners," he said.

Finally, the money needed to make strides on their own. Almost $10 million in cash reserves. An amount Mayor Buelterman says has the city in good hands.

You can watch the complete State of the City address below:

However, one resident says money in the bank and hurricane harnesses won't protect the city until folks can get out there safely, and marking and paving Highway 80 isn't making the cut.

"We really need two bridges that are brand new. We need two lanes, two full lanes going the full distance, and we need emergency lanes on either side," said Tybee resident Bill Blakey.

A constant battle the city will continue to fight.

The mayor says the paving project between the Bull and Lazaretto Creek bridges will begin soon but paving will only take place at night so work travel will not be interrupted.

WTOC will keep you updated on that start date.

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