A little over 20 years ago, in a quaint little news publication called “Weekend,” I wrote about auto traffic on the island. I could not, for the life of me, have believed that the problem I wrote about then would have been allowed to escalate, but it, without a doubt, has.
A year ago, we got the taste of just how delightful island traffic could be with the closing of the new Sea Island Road. I can attest to the horror….the horror of it all. (Thanks Marlon.) I visited my Dad at Marshes’ Edge that fateful afternoon. I left him at 3:30pm. I made my usual b-line towards the South Island. I made it to the Village and home by 5:30pm. This may be deemed great timing on Manhattan, it just sucked eggs on St. Simons. And I wasn’t the only one pissed, but I was one of the few writing about it a couple of decades ago (when the proper planning should have been put in place.). What follows is a commentary from the July 27, 1997 issue concerning island traffic.
If speed were the main issue of island transportation, wouldn’t it have been smarter to just keep paving when the Malcolm McKinnon Airport was first constructed? Is St.Simons long enough for cars to abuild up the kind of speed that, evidently, some drivers feel they must maintain to grasp that feel of accomplishment as they “race” down Frederica, or Demere, or Kings Way, or hell, through the Burger King drive-thru for that matter. I want to know just what business these people are into that makes them crown themselves, “road pork supreme.”
I like to maintain a comfortable speed. I do get a little grumpy when a fellow driver forgets just what they’re doing behind the wheel. Hopefully my audible suggestions will remind them.
There’s lots of visitors on the island now. And our visitors have brought all their pet cars with them. There’s just something so exciting about driving at the beach……
With this increased traffic comes the increased droning sounds of those who think that there is an underlying “need for speed” wave crest rising from our ranks.
We have Commissioner Strickland, a popular island resident [ Strickland wasn’t popular and he didn’t live on the Island] to thank for bringing it to county’s attention and we have the local news services [The Brunswick News was actually worse back then, if you can believe it] to thank for creating the “drone” so continuous and so loud in hopes that island residents will soon grow accustomed to it and in the end not hear it nor the heavy saws at work, clearing off a few “old oaks” for another lane or two. All this just so the traffic may flow a little more “smoothly.”
Speed is not needed for our traffic. There’s not enough room for speed. Our traffic needs to be “calmed.” You calm traffic by creating curves, flush landscaping, and visual sights that naturally slow a driver down. After all, what’s your hurry? Take your time. Enjoy island time, just don’t try to adjust us to your impatience.
“Demere needs to be three-laned ………..” Those words should send a shutter right up your spine at some real speed. Why is it that people on the mainland seem to complain the most about our roads?
I’m sure that if these were meant to be concrete and sand islands that they would have surely been those way before now. Just who do we think we are? We can’t dictate to nature our selfish wants and wishes. If a tree appears too close to the road, then I would suggest slowing down your car and giving it a little extra room as you steer around it.
If an accurate poll were taken, the fact that our tree canopy ranks above the beaches and golf courses as main drawing card for the Golden Isles would not surprise many of us. It might come as a surprise to those who are constantly yelling to “fell the trees.”
You want to cure the traffic problems? Go ahead and cut down some trees. Pick some really old and really big Oaks. Saw ’em down and chop ’em up. But you’d better keep all the wood for firewood, because there’s going to be some cold and lonely winters and even lonelier summers ahead.