Glynn County commissioners have plenty to consider about the future of traffic on St. Simons Island.
Development continues to put more cars on the roads and tourism continues to attract more visitors every year. As both continue, the pressure on St. Simons Island’s thoroughfares will only increase.
Those roads are all two lanes and, as we have seen during peak traffic times, can fill up quickly and cause delays.
Making roads like Frederica and Demere or Kings Way four lanes is not feasible without cutting down prized live oaks or encroaching on private property, which means key intersections where traffic backs up must be looked at carefully to ease bottlenecks.
Plans are in the works for roundabouts at key intersections, and we think it should stay that way. But a simpler answer may work for Kings Way and Frederica Road. Commissioners this week talked about expanding and altering the intersection to include dedicated left turn lanes in all directions.
We have seen how well roundabouts can work at the crossing of Frederica and Demere Roads. Prior to the traffic circle, cars would frequently back up at that intersection to past the traffic light for the Shops at Demere. Today, even if you stop in traffic, it moves swiftly and easily through the roundabout, which is the ultimate point to improving an intersection.
Roundabouts require less maintenance and impede the flow of traffic much less than traffic lights. They also create an opportunity for prettier landscaping and features to maintain the character of the island.
Roundabouts also, on the other hand, can be confusing for motorists, especially folks from out of town who have never experienced one.
Redesigning intersections is not as straight-forward as it may seem. There are plenty of opinions about methods, property and rights-of-way to consider and, ultimately, the outcome must be functional. The latter is what matters to most people. If that is achievable by simply adjusting the paint on the pavement and maybe adding a little more asphalt in a couple of places, it is worth it. While we think roundabouts are a sound solution for many intersections, turn lanes appear to be the best bet at Frederica Road and Kings Way.
If the cost is the same — a roundabout and turn lanes are each projected to cost $750,000 and achieve the same end — then the simplest solution in this case is the answer.