Drive anywhere in coastal Georgia these days and what’s the first thing that is likely to come to mind?
Unless you’re used to racing around Atlanta, it’s probably the lousy traffic -- which seemingly is getting more congested in the Coastal Empire by the day. There’s a reason for that, of course. It is getting worse.
And it should be a no-brainer as to why. After all, as people move here they bring with them cars, pickups, motorcycles, SUVs, you name it. And they don’t sit at home.
That leads to more traffic on roads that are probably already a decade behind the times, if not more. What improvements are being made are usually not enough to handle the current traffic load, let alone future needs. Yet rather than doing the common sense thing and fixing the problem by either biting the bullet and improving the road infrastructure, coming up with a workable mass transit system or putting some kind of moratorium on growth, Georgia has done nothing.
But there are signs the situation is at least being recognized for what it is. For example, the state Department of Transportation met with Bryan County residents recently, however, to show what future traffic patterns will be if growth projections hold true -- and there’s little reason to think they won’t. Despite a down economy, coastal Georgia continues to have both the charm to entice newcomers and a business philosophy that depends upon a steadily expanding population, and the combination seems likely to ensure our numbers are going to grow.
So when will we hit critical mass and what will it look like? Nobody knows, but according to the DOT in about 25 years it could take 45 minutes to get from Belfast Siding road to I-95. That’s likely to bring out the road rage in anyone.
But of even more pressing concern should be what may happen if another hurricane evacuation becomes necessary. Georgia’s coast fared badly in 1999, the last time such an evacuation took place. A decade later and while our roads haven’t changed, our population sure has.
How Georgia got to this point is beyond repairing, but our roads shouldn’t be. Yet unless there are real fixes in the works, the future looks increasingly congested.