Savannah-Chatham police are implementing a traffic operations plan to reduce delays and relieve congestion during the annual fireworks displays on July 4.
Starting on the afternoon of July 4, additional officers will be posted in the downtown area where historically long backups, short tempers and occasional low-speed traffic crashes occur following the annual fireworks display.
Some delays are anticipated for the estimated 60,000 spectators coming into the downtown area.
Officers will be working intersections in the festival area and on Hutchinson Island to assist with traffic flow, prevent bottle-necking and help move motorists safely.
To ensure safety and help minimize delays, motorists are asked to be vigilant, patient and co-operative. Officers directing traffic will not be able to stop and answer questions.
Public parking lots on River Street will be closed beginning about 3 a.m. July 4 and will remain closed until early July 7 for the First Friday event that follows the July 4 festivities. River Street will close to vehicular traffic at 4 p.m. July 4 and will reopen early July 5.
All traffic and parking laws will be enforced on Hutchinson Island. Vehicles parked in the roadway or in a manner that obstructs traffic will be towed at the owner's expense.
Metro's juvenile officers will be on scene to ensure the safety of Savannah's youths. Curfews (11 p.m. on weeknights) will be strictly enforced for those downtown and not under parental supervision.
Police specifically will address the need for most drivers leaving the fireworks presentation to access Interstate 16. Non-Bay Street traffic will be directed away from MLK Boulevard to other routes, such as Whitaker and West Bay streets, to exit the downtown area.
Westbound traffic on Bay Street will be directed to East Lathrop Avenue to access Interstate 16 via Louisville Road. Vehicles will not be allowed to turn from Bay onto MLK or Whitaker.
Police recommend drivers use city parking garages, where they will be provided maps for the easiest routes leaving downtown following the fireworks. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead, expect delays and heed posted signage.
The key components of the traffic plan include:
â€¢ Prohibiting traffic from turning southbound onto MLK Boulevard or Whitaker from Bay.
Westbound traffic on Bay will be directed west to alternate routes to I-16 through East Lathrop and Louisville Road, or through Garden City.
â€¢ Parking garage traffic will be routed southbound on MLK, Whitaker and Price streets.
â€¢ Alternate routes to I-16 are West Gwinnett and 37th streets. Price Street also can be used to get to 37th Street, which will take traffic to westbound I-16.
â€¢ Officers will be deployed to assist drivers in locating the alternative routes to I-16.
â€¢ Traffic headed toward Wilmington Island via President Street should flow as usual.
As a reminder, parking vehicles on the Truman Parkway and Talmadge Bridge is dangerous and illegal. Officers will be assigned to prevent it.