Tougher vehicle inspections at Parris Island lead to mile-long backup

Hundreds of proud parents eager to see their new Marines and several other groups visiting Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island brought traffic to a standstill Thursday morning in Port Royal.

Port Royal police tried to direct traffic at about 7:30 a.m. as a mile of cars waiting to pass through the depot's main gate snaked down Parris Island Gateway and past Shell Point Elementary School on Savannah Highway.

"Several factors impacted the traffic today," said Lt. Sharon Hyland, depot spokesman. "A double graduation, (which brings) twice the number of parents and family, an educator workshop and several large visiting groups."

Family and friends of graduating recruits are allowed on base on Thursday to visit their new Marines before a graduation ceremony the following day. Today, more than 550 recruits are expected to graduate, and each is accompanied by two to 20 family members, according to the depot.

Port Royal Police say this is not the first time traffic from Parris Island has caused major congestion in Port Royal.

"We've been having major issues for about four weeks now," said Capt. Alan Beach, Port Royal Police spokesman. "We're trying to work with the base on this."

Beach said the base is checking the security passes of commercial vehicles going onto the island and that might to be to blame for slowing traffic. Hyland declined to comment on the base's specific security measures.

The only road entrance to Parris Island is a causeway, Beach added, "so they can only do so much. I hope we can get this worked out. I think it would make everyone happy. We take the heat on the civilian side and I'm sure the base is hearing it from the military side."