traffic study

Traffic moves down Frederica Road. on Friday on St. Simons Island.

An update to Glynn County’s metropolitan transportation plan — which includes a St. Simons Island traffic study — is underway, according to county officials.

An engineering, planning and architectural firm called Pond & Company completed a traffic study in 2015 that looked at various roads and intersections on St. Simons Island and made recommendations for how to address or mitigate current or future traffic issues.

The study was limited in scope, however, and so the county commission, through the Brunswick Area Transportation Study, got a grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation to pay for an update to its metropolitan transportation plan, which would include a new, more in-depth study.

Pond offered to conduct the new study as well, but county commissioners voted instead to award the $275,000 contract to engineering firm CDM Smith of Atlanta at its June 20 meeting.

“This Monday, we had our first meeting,” said Community Development Director Pamela Thompson.

The first step is to look at current socioeconomic data and extrapolate it out to 2045, Thompson said.

Personnel with CDM will look at information about labor, the locations of major employers and where everyone is going to and from. They’ll look at all forms of transportation and make recommendations on a regional level for mitigating potential traffic issues down the line.

“Say Exit 29 (of Interstate 95) is becoming heavily more residential, (CDM) would recommend more traffic lights or sidewalk, as opposed to industrial, where it would propose more lanes,” Thompson said.

After the big-picture stuff is out of the way, she said the firm will begin looking at St. Simons Island in particular.

“Once they get the socioeconomic data the next step is to lay the groundwork for St. Simons and get started on that,” Thompson said.

Traffic counts, accident counts, state and regional data on traffic flows, state and federal traffic projects and plans for the next several years will all be taken into account, among other factors.

“They’re taking a more comprehensive look at the intersections than the 2015 study, and instead of using more generalized growth trends we’re going to use past data and projection about what is actually happening on the island and giving ‘good, better, best’ suggestions,” Thompson said. “For example, a good solution might involve cutting down live oaks, while the better solution would save them.”

The new study will replace the Pond study, she said, but it’s “too early to tell” if the new study will invalidate any of the recommendations Pond made.

Currently, she said the county expects to have the completed study in-hand by this time next year.

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