TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - The roads that lead to the beaches on Tybee have been a little busier this year, with thousands of people driving to the island every weekend since the end of March.
Tybee Island has always been a popular destination, but this year the travel season has started early. The city has added traffic controls to avoid gridlock in the busy parts of the island.
“If it stops here, it causes a ripple effect all the way back to Johnny Mercer,” said Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen.
In the past few years the City of Tybee Island has implemented unique traffic controls. Gillen says he thought they had at least until mid-May to begin implementing them for the 2021 season.
“It’s typically busy enough for this sort of thing in June. We haven’t seen this sort of traffic level in April, ever,” he said.
Beginning Saturday morning, city personnel put out cones and barricades to redirect traffic and, in some cases, block the roads that see high amounts of congestion. Traffic controls will be implemented on Butler Avenue, Inlet Avenue, 17th Street and Tybrisa Street.
“So what we’re creating is a circular pattern of traffic as you pass Tybrisa, you’ve got to drive the traffic pattern and go back northward. And if Tybrisa over here gets backed up, we’ll shut it off temporarily until it clears,” said Gillen.
Over the past week, Gillen says they saw more than 10,000 cars each day, evidence that people are eager to hit the beach.
“We saw such massive amounts of people on the beach as well that Chief Harrell decided, you know, we need to get the lifeguards out here earlier,” he said.
Lifeguards are now on the beach and Gillen says they’ve even offered incentives to the Code Enforcement teams and police to get more of them on patrol before the peak summer months.
“We needed to start it earlier after we saw the numbers from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,” he said.
Gillen says visitors and residents can expect to see traffic controls every Saturday. Traffic will be redirected starting at 11:00 a.m. until dusk.