Highway 80: New stripes for an old problem

TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia Department of Transportation is continuing their efforts to make parts of U.S Highway 80 safer with a two-year re-striping initiative.

The work began Wednesday night at Lazaretto Creek. Jill Nagel with GDOT said the initiative is divided into five parts.

"This has been in the works for a couple of years, getting all five projects put together, and we are at the last one now," Nagel said.

The $78,000 re-striping initiative will re-configure the existing space to make the medians wider and the shoulders smaller. Fort Pulaski and Bull River Bridge have already seen these improvements.

First responders say the projects aren't making a big difference because the bridges aren't getting any wider.

"It's more than just the bridges. There are some areas along that road where there is no center median and there's very little space where cars can yield off to the side of the road if we're trying to get past them," Chatham Emergency Services CEO, Chuck Kearns, said. "Painting the lines doesn't sound like it's going to be effective for our concerns."

This small project is years ahead of another needed fix. The insufficient bridges on U.S. Highway 80 going out to Tybee Island desperately need to be replaced. The $105 million construction to replace the bridges isn't slated to start until 2026.

Back in November 2017, WTOC revealed the project was originally slated to start within the next three years but was moved down on the GDOT list of priorities. However, port-related projects were expedited. Since our investigation, there has been no effort to move this project up, and it was not up for discussion with GDOT officials.

"Has there been any effort to expedite the replacement of both bridges," we asked GDOT?

"I'm not going to discuss that project," Nagel said.

Those who use U.S. Highway 80 daily for emergency assistance said 2026 is difficult to fathom.

"It's not even a light at the end of the tunnel. It seems so far off in the future from what we deal with every day right now," Kearns said.

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