The road to Tybee Island will be a popular place this summer. Butt the stretch from the Bull River Bridge begins what can be a two lane nightmare. “You have head on collisions like we experienced a few months ago where somebody died,” says Tybee Mayor Jason Buelterman.
Over the years, Buelterman says the number of fatal accidents has increased along with traffic problems. Wednesday, Buelterman did some driving of his own all the way to Atlanta to meet with Governor Nathan Deal. He’s trying to push along a project $100 million project that would offer improvements to Highway 80.
“I wanted him to start advocating for it and I think he has a good team on the Department of Transportation (DOT) and they’re dong everything they can but the issue is federal permitting,’ says Buelterman.
“It’s a state and a federal highway, it’s in county jurisdiction, it’s not even in the city of Tybee Island so it’s out of our control which is frustrating but it affects us more than it does anyone else,” said the mayor.
Buelterman says while the governor expressed concerns and support, he’s still being told it may be as long as four years before any work might begin. “But the longer this thing takes to get accomplished the more lives that may be lost, the more people that will be stuck in traffic,” he said.
Buelterman said his concern is “the long term fix which is to replace the bridges and widen the causeway. Ultimately I think it should be four lanes all the way.”
He says a traffic study doesn’t necessarily back that up which is frustrating. Buelterman believes the state conducted the study on week days, but says if that is the case, it would not give the accurate traffic count of busy weekend days.
What is proposed now is not four lane bridges for example, but two lanes with emergency lanes and bike lanes added, so certainly improvements. Again, four lanes the entire way including the bridges is what Buelterman believes would ultimately serve traffic needs. “But at this point, I’ll take what I can get in terms of a project and improvements,” he told us.
“There are a lot of projects that have received funding and priority over this one because of shorter commuter times, things like that. This is a safety issue so it needs to take precedence and this needs to be a top priority,” said the mayor