Glynn County Commissioners are leaning towards a flyover with a roundabout to help ease traffic congestion at the entrance to St. Simons Island.
At a special meeting convened on Tuesday, commissioners were given different options to consider that could ease traffic congestion entering and leaving the island, but some of the options – such as a traditional intersection or one with three roundabouts – have been rejected by the consultant with Kimley. -Horn Associates because they wouldn’t solve the root problem.
The existing walkway is what is described as a “rotary triangular” with various issues that have led to numerous side and rear collisions. Some of the problems are caused by heavy traffic trying to merge by rapidly slowing down to 10mph as it enters the walkway.
The problem with the hover option is that it is the most expensive of the various alternatives. A flyover costs around $11.7 million, compared to the cheapest option, a traditional intersection costing $5.6 million.
The two-lane flyover would add 30-40% more capacity to the walkway, but the question remains how this would affect other island areas experiencing traffic problems.
Questions for commissioners to consider include how to fund a flyover, the different funding mechanisms available, and which option they prefer.
“I think we have to decide which direction to go,” Commissioner Bill Brunson said.
Commissioner Cap Fendig, whose district includes all of Saint-Simons Island, said his choice was a flyover with a roundabout. A flyover with a traffic light instead of a roundabout was another of the preferred options recommended by the consultant.
“We knew this day was coming for the commission,” Fendig said. “The growth will continue.”
Commissioners plan to wait until the first meeting in June to discuss how they will resolve traffic congestion at the Gateway.
State Court Judge Wallace Harrell asked the commissioners to consider pay raises for the three part-time judges who work in his office. A judge must be available at all times in case a warrant needs to be issued.
He said state court judges across the state received raises this year, but there was no provision for part-time judges. He asked the commissioners to consider giving them a monthly raise of $500.
Solicitor General Maria Lugue asked the commissioners for a raise because of the number of days she is required to work prosecuting cases for the state court. Last month, she said she worked 22 or 24 working days due to the workload in what started out as a part-time job.
She also asked the commissioners to ask the General Assembly when it meets in January to approve local legislation to make the barrister’s position in Glynn County full-time as it is in many other counties in the state.
At the meeting, a presentation by a court facilities consultant gave the commissioners a different perspective on how to handle a request to build a new juvenile court. The consultant told commissioners that the justice system was “on the way to a crisis”.
“Your court facilities are inadequate,” the consultant said, adding that he was willing to discuss his concerns about the issues, but not in public.
He told the commissioners that suggestions to use the old offices for juvenile court cases were “unrealistic”.
The consultant suggested an addition that would be built on the vacant site where the former public safety complex was located. He recommended a building larger than 20,000 square feet attached to the county courthouse, about double the capacity needed, he said. The remaining part of the building could be constructed as needed in the future.
The cost of the recommended juvenile service center would be $8 million to $10 million and would include additional parking, possibly a parking deck and a secure entrance out of public view, he said.
The consultant showed a concept drawing for a 76,000 square foot attachment when it’s time to expand Superior Court services, consolidating all court services into one complex. The attachment would meet the county’s legal justice needs for decades to come.
The composition of a committee created to edit a proposed rewrite of the zoning ordinance will be changed after the commissioners decide they don’t like having an even number of voting members. They agreed that Commissioner Walter Rafolski should be added as the ninth voting member to avoid a tie vote.
Commissioner Wayne Neal said he wanted to make sure the public had a say in the new order.
“If stakeholders don’t have a voice, I don’t see a future in this,” he said. “It’s dead on arrival without stakeholder input. People need to have a seat at the table.
There are nine different categories which will be discussed separately in future meetings. The committee is to meet from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Mondays at the Brunswick Library.
Commission Chairman David O’Quinn said there was still a lot of work to do before the order was approved. Ease of use should be one of the goals.
“Anyone should be able to watch it and know what the rules are,” he said.
Commissioner Sammy Tostensen questioned the length of the draft order and expressed reservations about supporting it in its current size.
“The goal was to allow more people to do business in Glynn County,” he said. “We need to streamline it, not add to it. It looks like we are going in the wrong direction.