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Folly Beach closing to inbound traffic immediately after July 4th fireworks Thursday night

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Folks heading to Folly Beach in June 2018 sitting in traffic. After Thursday night's Fourth of July fireworks, the Folly Beach Police Department will close lanes to alleviate traffic leaving the island. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

Folly Beach police will stop motorists from entering the island after Thursday night's Fourth of July fireworks in hopes it will help alleviate the outgoing traffic.

Chief Andrew Gilreath said inbound lanes onto the island from Folly Road will be closed from Center Street and Ashley Avenue to Bowens Island Road and instead be used as two outbound lanes.

The lane closure will begin at 9 p.m. and remain closed no later than 11 p.m., he said. 

"The last couple of years after the fireworks, with everyone leaving at the same time, has caused absolute gridlock on the island, making it difficult for fire and police to get anywhere in emergencies," Gilreath said.

"We're trying to do a better job relieving that pressure. ... We're trying to get that initial rush of people off the beach," he added.

This isn't the first time the city of Folly Beach has closed down lanes after the July Fourth fireworks, Gilreath said, but after hours of stalled traffic last year he wanted to bring it back.

About 20 people will assist traffic on the island, Gilreath said, including officers with the Folly Beach Police Department, probation and parole, and the state constable program. Gilreath said there will be officers available in the event of another incident. 

City Administrator Spencer Wetmore said the city experiences gridlock whenever rain hits the island, and with tens of thousands of people expected to watch Thursday night's fireworks city leaders decided to implement the extra lane and road closure. 

Reach Mikaela Porter at 843-937-5906. Follow her on Twitter @mikaelaporterPC. 

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