SAVANNAH, GA (June 30, 2011): With spectators expected in the tens of thousands on Tybee Island Sunday and in Downtown Savannah on Monday for the annual fireworks shows, participants are encouraged to have fun but use common sense in an effort to ease expected heavy traffic. Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police will be out in force, redirecting traffic and heavily patrolling roadways.
Drivers should expect traffic delays before and immediately after the fireworks, and are encouraged to linger after the events rather than immediately heading to their cars. Carpools are suggested, as well as parking out of the central downtown Savannah core.
On Sunday afternoon, police will increase enforcement at intersections of U.S. 80 on Wilmington Island as spectators travel to Tybee. They will be looking for any violations, including Georgia seat belt requirements. After the event, they will focus on traffic control for those vehicles returning to Savannah.
On Monday, Savannah’s River Street will be closed to vehicle traffic from 4 p.m. until after the fireworks. Parking lots on River Street will be closed Saturday morning in anticipation of the monthly First Saturday festivities and will remain closed until Monday morning.
Parking on the Talmadge Bridge or Truman Parkway is unsafe and illegal. Officers will be positioned in both locations to prevent vehicles from stopping.
Additional officers also will be placed on Hutchinson Island to address increased crowds and traffic issues. Parking along the main roadways on the island will be limited. Vehicles parked along the roadway cannot hinder vehicular traffic, and parking in the medians will not be permitted.
Police are planning for traffic after the event when most will be trying to travel south and to Interstate 16. They encourage drivers to take their time leaving the event and anticipate problematic traffic situations.
Traffic will be diverted to Price Street on the east side and Lathrop Avenue on the west side. MLK Jr. Boulevard, Whitaker, Abercorn and Habersham streets also are expected to be very busy. Traffic will not be allowed to turn left onto MLK from Bay Street.
Instead, westbound traffic will be directed to Lathrop and eastbound will be sent to Price and the Truman Parkway. Lathrop ends at Louisville Road, on which vehicles can turn left and then right onto the I-16 entrance ramp. Price will take traffic to 37th Street on which drivers can turn right to the I-16 Connector. The Truman can take them to Derenne and the Lyons Parkway connector to I-16.
Vehicles leaving parking garages downtown will not be allowed to access Bay Street. They will be provided maps to direct them out of Downtown.
Police encourage those traveling south from the riverfront area to stay on the thoroughfare streets and not attempt to use side streets to move through the city. Officers will be stationed along the way to block traffic on side streets and keep traffic moving southward.
“This is one of the city’s most popular events and we anticipate a huge number of people impatiently trying to leave after the event,” said Sgt. Anthony Gallo of the SCMPD traffic division. “This plan will get everyone out of downtown the most efficiently and safely if everyone cooperates. Those who try to circumnavigate the plan probably are going to become very frustrated, because officers will be stationed to prevent that.”
# # #