When we wrote in October that drivers should plan ahead and be patient while the county performs road and maintenance work around St. Simons Island, we did so with the idea that the county would — in good faith — inform citizens in a decent time frame about any road work that causes a major disruption. That is not what happened this week.
On Wednesday, commuters trying to get around St. Simons ran into an unexpected traffic snarl caused by county road work. Drivers on Frederica Road were funneled into one lane between Demere Road and Sea Island Road while workers repaved and widened the road’s shoulders. Traffic was stopped at Hanover Square to the south and around Silver Lake Road to the north with through traffic alternating between both on the single lane. This continued on Thursday and is expected to end today.
There is a domino effect to traffic, and that was in full force Thursday on St. Simons Island. Because of the all the work being done, that also included separate work around Hamilton Landing Drive, traffic was backed up substantially on Sea Island Road. The backup was so bad that it affected people leaving the island.
Instead of driving off Kings Way and onto Sea Island Road to leave St. Simons, cars just sat there because traffic wasn’t moving on Sea Island Road.
The biggest problem is that nobody knew this road work would be happening — not the residents that would be affected, not us at The News, not even some county officials. There was a scramble to get out the information after the fact Wednesday, informing everyone of the work that was taking place. The original schedule called for milling and resurfacing work to start on Sea Island Road from Shops of Sea Island Drive to Black Banks Drive this week with the work done from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. That work will now be done next week.
We fielded quite a few complaints, including one from a driver who had been stuck in traffic for what he said was more than an hour. Residents certainly didn’t expect it, and we hope that emergency personnel at least had a heads-up so they can adjust to the circumstances in case there was a fire or some other type of emergency in an area where traffic is at a standstill.
We knew at the beginning of this project that there would be some delays and issues. Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy said there would be pain. Still, that doesn’t excuse not giving the citizens any warning at all when plans change.
Citizens deserve to know when road work is going to disrupt their lives. It’s tough to plan for something nobody knows is coming.