The St. Simons Island Gateway project will change the way motorists enter and exit the island. The overall goal of the Gateway project is to improve the flow of traffic on and off St. Simons Island. It is the solitary land access point for the island. For a number of years this intersection and its immediate vicinity have experienced traffic backups and delays. The second of three major island intersections slated by the Board of Commissioners for modification, the Gateway project will turn the triangular group of roads–Sea Island Road, Kings Way and Demere Road–into a one-way loop. This loop will create a continuous movement for motorists in some areas and will significantly reduce the number of movements experienced at the traffic signal located at Demere Road and Sea Island Road.
Starting Sunday July 5th 2009, all traffic going onto the island will veer right, onto Kings Way, instead of being able to continue east on Demere Road. Traffic leaving the island will have one-way use of Demere from Sea Island Road to the F.J. Torras Causeway. The Gateway ultimately will be a loop among Kings Way, Sea Island and Demere roads – think of it as a giant traffic circle – that will be fully completed in November. Sunday marks the beginning of the second phase of the project, and the first time that some roads will become one-way only.
The change Sunday will affect traffic in four zones:
1. ENTERING THE ISLAND
All traffic entering St. Simons Island will veer right onto Kings Way, which is now two lanes wide. Drivers heading for the Village should stay in the right lane, to continue on Kings Way. Drivers aiming for northbound Sea Island Road or eastbound Demere Road must use the left lane.
2. THE SEA ISLAND ROAD LOOP LAND
After vehicles headed for the Village split off and continue southeast, as previously, on Kings Way, other drivers will use the Sea Island loop lane to connect to Sea Island Road, which will be one way northbound, between Kings Way and Demere Road. The loop is two lanes wide. Both drivers headed for the north end of the island via Sea Island Road and those who want to travel east on Demere Road will use the loop.
3. MERGING FROM THE LOOP LANE ONTO SEA ISLAND ROAD
The loop lane joins Sea Island Road so that drivers will merge with traffic already on the road, coming from the direction of the Village. Once on Sea Island Road, traffic can turn left, or west, to reach the causeway, continue north on Sea Island, or turn right, or east, onto Demere Road.
4. THE INTERSECTION OF SEA ISLAND AND DEMERE ROADS
Timing of the traffic lights at the intersection of Demere and Sea Island roads will be adjusted Sunday morning to account for the new traffic pattern. Vehicles traveling south on Sea Island Road, or away from Epworth by the Sea, will no longer be able to continue beyond the intersection with Demere, as the section of Sea Island Road between Kings Way and Demere will be one-way northbound. County engineer Bruner recommends that motorists who had previously used Sea Island Road to connect with Kings Way to travel to the Island Club at Retreat or the Village, instead, turn left, or eastbound, onto Demere and use the roundabout at Demere and Frederica roads, avoiding the Gateway altogether until it is completed. When it is done, it will be an easy step to enter the Gateway via the Kings Way loop lane that will distribute westbound traffic on Demere Road onto Kings Way, allowing it to again use Kings Way to reach the Island Club or the Village.