VHB partnered with Chatham County to balance sorely needed roadway improvements with historic preservation along an important section of iconic Bay Street. As the prime project consultant, VHB provided conceptual design, preliminary and final construction plans, right-of-way plans, stakeholder engagement, and erosion control permitting as part of a 1.3 mile, four-lane roadway widening project to ease traffic congestion and improve pedestrian mobility on an increasingly important corridor. The revitalized area is now a safer place for residents, visitors, and business owners, and is well-positioned for economic growth.
Bay Street is the gateway to Savannah from the west and VHB worked with a wide variety of city and state constituents, from the City of Savannah to the Georgia Department of Transportation to long-established neighboring businesses. The project needed to accommodate a high volume of pedestrian traffic and preserve several historic properties along the project corridor.
The team gathered input from neighborhood associations, community leaders, and business owners on Bay Street to write and design historical markers at five locations for West Savannah and Hudson Hill Communities. Integrating the new markers and preservation of 18 large live oak trees into a challenging project area with a high volume of pedestrian and truck traffic highlighted ecological and cultural resources in a city that cherishes its history. The addition of a raised median eliminated mid-block turns and aims to reduce crash frequency along a roadway with two to three times the statewide crash site average. The addition of turn lanes improved traffic operations along the corridor, while the inclusion of three pedestrian hybrid beacon signals provided protected crossings for pedestrians.
The project was recognized with the 2020 Engineering Excellence State Award for Transportation from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Georgia and a 2019 Preconstruction Award for Urban Design from Georgia Partnership for Transportation Quality (GPTQ).