Traffic counter on Hickory Trail. 

The “appropriate resources” that the Town said in its newsletter last Friday are lacking for next weekend’s approved left-turn prohibition at U.S. Hwy. 158 and South Dogwood Trail are police resources, according to Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey, who spoke with The Beacon this afternoon.

Until Ms. Morey informed us, we were not aware that Southern Shores police officers had monitored the U.S. 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection this weekend.

The Town announced cancellation of the June 27-28 no-left-turn weekend that had been unanimously approved by the Town Council at its June 16 meeting in a newsletter item called “Updated Schedule for Southern Shores ‘No-Left Turn Events.’”

The item also said that other no-left-turn events that the Town Council has authorized for later in the summer “may . . . be subject to change.”

The Beacon questioned both the reason for the June 27-28 cancellation and the Town’s failure to explain it. We also thought that the item’s wording about change gave rise to doubts about the Town’s commitment to the three no-left-turn weekends that the Council had approved at its June 1 meeting. (See The Beacon, 6/19/20.)

As Ms. Morey explained, the Town of Kitty Hawk, which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Hwy 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation, refused to sign a written memorandum of understanding with Southern Shores on the no-left-turn weekends, absent police presence.

Mayor Tom Bennett thought Kitty Hawk had given its permission, Ms. Morey said—although the Mayor did express some lingering doubt at the June 16 meeting about the neighboring town.

The Mayor had hit on the idea, the Mayor Pro Tem said–after the miserable traffic of the June 13-14 weekend–to put barrels out in the left-turn lane on U.S. Hwy. 158, but not to have a police presence, so there would be “less cost and less strain on officers.”

When the Town of Southern Shores “went to get the agreement from Kitty Hawk,” she said, “[officials there said,] ‘No, we don’t want you to do it without police out there.’”

Southern Shores Police Chief David Kole provided police oversight at the Hwy. 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection this weekend, but he has not agreed to the June 27-28 weekend. Ms. Morey did say, however, that implementing next week’s previously scheduled no-left-turn event is “not out of the question.”

Police availability is key.

If the Council believes that “it all worked pretty well this weekend,” the Mayor Pro Tem said, it may decide “maybe we can do it next week.”

The Town Council has a “commitment to do the three [other no-left-turn weekends] that we voted on,” she said, “unless something horrible happens” that would prevent them from being held. A bad accident or an injury to a police officer on the scene, she said, would be “something horrible.”

The July 4-5 no-left-turn weekend is a definite event. The other two weekends approved by the Town Council are currently scheduled for July 25-26 and Aug. 1-2. Those dates could change, the Ms. Morey said, but the Town’s commitment would not change, absent that “something horrible” or some other occurrence that would compel cancellation.

Ms. Morey also elaborated upon an increased number of vehicle counters on the route from the Wright Memorial Bridge through Duck and the sharing of vehicle-count data among the towns of Kitty Hawk, Duck, and Southern Shores.

Counters will be set up to determine the number of vehicles that enter Duck at its south end and depart Duck at its north end, as well as elsewhere on N.C. Hwy. 12, she said, giving the three towns a better idea of how many vehicles are merely passing through Dare County to vacation on the Currituck beaches.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/21/20


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