Traffic on the streets of Glynn County is notably light as many are laid off, self-quarantining or working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On the bright side, it makes life easier for workers on infrastructure projects.
“When you don’t have any school traffic, don’t have a lot of people going to the beach, going to rental homes, it’s safer and we don’t worry as much about the traffic,” said Glynn County Public Works Director Dave Austin.
Currently, the county has five major projects going on St. Simons Island, with several planned for the mainland in the coming weeks.
“We are in the spring break season, (when) it’s usually pretty busy around here. It’s picking up, though,” Austin said. “We’re trying to do some of the resurfacing work during the day we wouldn’t even think of doing during peak hours (before the outbreak).”
Resurfacing the roundabout at the intersection of Frederica and Demere roads on St. Simons Island, paving new sidewalks and a new crosswalk on Kings Way at Mallery Street, replacing two tide gates at Barnes Plantation and Massengale Park and the beginning of a new roundabout at East Beach Causeway and Demere Road are all on the table.
“The Demere and East Beach roundabout project is going to be at least four months long,” Austin said. “So we’re going to get caught and there’s going to be some pain there.”
Aside from the benefits for contractors working on the projects, Austin said county inspectors can check the workmanship on each project while it’s in progress, which they can’t do effectively when work is happening at night.
Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission Executive Director Andrew Burroughs said his people are also directly benefiting from slower traffic.
Manhole inspections, upgrades to a water well and water tower on Perry Lane Road and cleaning and replacing sewer lines are all projects that are either done at night or at the risk of causing congestion.
“Many things we would have to do at night we can now do during the day,” Burroughs said. “Anytime you can work during the day, you can work more safely. You can bring lights in at night to illuminate the site, but daylight is always better.”
In the city of Brunswick as well, city engineer Garrow Alberson said fewer people on the road means better working conditions at project sites like L Street and Glynn Middle School.
“We were doing the trail project behind Glynn Middle on (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard), and not having the kids out there in the early afternoon helped a lot,” Alberson said. “They’re not having to deal with traffic control and traffic interfering with the job as site much. It’s sort of minimized that.”
So far, none has seen any COVID-19 infections at work sites, which Alberson said is a testament to the health measures taken by contractors.