TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer, and plenty of people will spend it on Tybee Island, but members of Tybee Island’s Public Safety Committee members are already planning for the next summer holiday...the Fourth of July.
A Fourth of July traffic control plan was just one of the items on Thursday’s public safety meeting agenda. City leaders are using lessons learned from Orange Crush.
Committee members were overall very pleased with the turnout of this year’s Orange Crush, with fewer traffic safety stops and accidents compared to past years. They say since there is only one way on and off the island, trying to get people to enter and exit as quickly as possible is their main focus.
“We were very pleased. We kept a lot of the vehicles out of the neighborhoods, so with July 4th, it’s going to be a little bit different," said Wanda Doyle, Chair, Tybee Island Public Safety Committee.
“I think we were down about 2,000 cars from the previous year," Tybee Island City Manager, Shawn Gillen, said.
Doyle and Gillen were two of many committee members who agreed that this year’s Orange Crush was an overall success.
“One of the things I noticed last year was that there were times of the day where I couldn’t get an ambulance or firetruck to some places on the island. That’s dangerous, so this year, we set up these traffic controls to allow us to get those emergency vehicles where they need to be."
Gillen says although some things could’ve been tweaked, their main concern was traffic flow - with many different departments coming in to help.
“We had some barricades. We wanted them to control where traffic was flowing, and when that changes, it can cause problems. It didn’t cause a huge disruption in the traffic flow this year, but some of the barricades were just pushed out of the way with vehicles, so we know some areas were going to have to fill them up with more water.”
Now that Orange Crush has come and gone, committee members are thinking about the Fourth of July and what plans they will implement - similar to Orange Crush - that will also make it a success as well.
“On the Fourth of July, we’ll be setting up a very similar method, but the issue is not the influx as much, because the influx of traffic on the Fourth of July starts early in the morning, about 9 a.m. when the early birds come out to get those good parking spots.”
“The volume of traffic is about 5-6,000 more vehicles than we normally get on, say, an Orange Crush, so it is a huge amount of cars and they have to go somewhere, so we’re setting up the traffic controls to guide people to where the parking spaces are, and then when those areas are full, we’ll guide them to the open areas.”
That includes people coming in on 14th Street and exiting on 15th Street. At Tybrisa, people will be able to go into the strand parking lot until it’s full, and then it will shut down and take strand to 18th, and every other street will be blocked.
"I think this is going to be - this will be a test - but we know the traffic controls work, so I’m anxious to see how this will work for July 4th.
There will be a public hearing on the traffic control plans for the Fourth of July sometime in June.