The Georgia Department of Transportation has made it easier for diamondback terrapins to cross Torras Causeway on St. Simons Island.

On St. Simons Island, brake for road work ... and turtles

If you happen to be driving on St. Simons Island over the next two weeks, watch out for a lane closure caused by … turtles. 

Beginning Wednesday, the eastbound lane of Ga. 25 Spur East/Torras Causeway in Glynn County will be closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays while work crews clear debris from turtle holes in the median barriers of the highway. 

The holes accommodate female diamondback terrapins, which spend May through July hunting for spots to lay their eggs. According to a University of Georgia study, that sends the turtles scrambling across causeways near Jekyll, St. Simons and Tybee islands. Alas for the turtles, that’s also the height of tourist season, and many get squished by passing cars. 

To accommodate the turtles, the Georgia Department of Transportation has installed concrete median barriers with half-circle holes for the terrapins to squirm through as they cross the road. The special barriers divide the highway for several miles. 

Unfortunately, the holes get clogged from time to time, according to GDOT spokeswoman Jill Nagel. 

“With the storms we’ve had, the hurricanes, debris gets stuck in there,” Nagel said. 

To protect workers and to accommodate their equipment, GDOT will close the eastbound causeway lanes on weekdays through May 2, when the work should be completed – just in time for turtle nesting season.

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