Upgraded traffic light technology coming to Hilton Head Island

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 4:36 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, Sc. (WTOC) - Just over 30,000 people drive onto Hilton Head on a typical day but that number is much higher during the summer tourist season.

All that traffic creates jams getting onto and leaving the island but now the town is looking to make upgrades that could change that.

“We’ve been here in the summer and it’s just insane to get around.”

“I guess by the time people are getting off work it was a little congested.”

“It was still bumper to bumper it took me forever.”

Nobody likes traffic and the town of Hilton Head knows it.

“People getting on and off the island, that is something that is a challenge for us here,” said Jim Iwanicki, traffic engineer on Hilton Head Island.

The current traffic lights use two-to-three-decade old technology to try and handle the flow of thousands of cars but the town’s traffic engineer says they are in the middle of upgrades bringing in state-of-the-art radar technology that will connect to all 25 lights on the island.

“The traffic signal computer is processing that and saying hey instead of having one car waiting to turn left we have three cars waiting to turn left.”

He says it will also use thermal imaging to detect pedestrians. The town hoping these upgrades will increase safety and reduce wait times.

The project itself has seen unexpected wait times though, as they were hoping to complete it in August and now are tracking a mid-November end date. Iwanicki saying they’re perfecting the new tech and the grid that surrounds it.

“We’ve spent the last couple of months upgrading that infrastructure so that it can handle the sensitive computers.”

In total it’s about $3 million worth of work that should be done by the end of the year... a timeline that’s music to tourists’ ears.

“I’m excited to come back in March and see how it works out for us. I’ll take him to play golf and if I come back quicker I’ll like that idea,” said Jennifer Rasmussen.

The town says the changes likely won’t make a huge difference during the peak times of summer, but hopes results will be noticeable the rest of the year.