Tybee surprised by early influx of traffic on island

Tybee surprised by early influx of traffic on island

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Traffic is back in a big way on Tybee Island, and city officials say they were shocked at how much of it they saw in March.

City Manager Shawn Gillen says the traffic count is high every Saturday now like it is on holidays such as the 4th of July. He says while the city wasn’t prepared for this to be the case in March, they will be prepared moving forward.

“We saw 13,178 cars come on the island that day. In the last five years, in an entire month of March, we’ve never seen it get much above 10,000,” said Gillen.

Gillen says this traffic count was from the last Saturday of March. Gillen says this is a 30 percent increase in traffic from a typical weekend in March.

“We didn’t have traffic controls put into place or anything like that to help keep things moving.”

During peak season, Gillen says the city is prepared with things like barricades blocking off congested areas and staff to help control it. However it’s usually something they have time to sort out with staff before the big crowds.

“You try not to plan to leave the island on Saturday and Sunday,” said resident Pat Leiby.

Pat Leiby has lived on the island for a few years and says while traffic is frustrating, it’s good to see the community getting business again.

“I like to see the local businesses making money.”

Other residents say seeing the crowds coming in again does worry them.

“We’re afraid of a surge,” said resident Shirley Wright.

Gillen says the city will be having a meeting this week to talk traffic control logistics.

“There are people who are moving off the island because of the congestion and it doesn’t feel like a neighborhood anymore. We like to see people come and we’re glad the businesses are thriving, but there needs to be balance,” said Wright.

If you don’t want to sit in traffic on the weekends you can watch real time traffic on the city’s website. They have live camera footage on the Bull River Bridge and on areas of the beach.

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