The left turn on to South Dogwood Trail at U.S. Hwy. 158 will be blocked from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, a prohibition approved June 1 by the Town Council that will be enforced by two Southern Shores police officers on the scene.
By a 4-1 vote at its regular June meeting, the Town Council approved the implementation of two more no-left-turn weekends this summer and scheduled them for July 25-26 and Aug. 1-2, with the advice of Police Chief David Kole. The Council may decide at its meeting Tuesday to change one or both of these weekend dates.
The Town Council meets next Tuesday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center. You may attend the meeting in person or join by Zoom videoconferencing. Seating in the Pitts Center will be limited by social-distancing restrictions.
While the Council seeks to alleviate the crush of northbound cut-through traffic that prevents Southern Shores residents from freely traveling to and from their homes and otherwise seriously inconveniences and endangers them, the Council also seeks to obtain vehicle counts on residential streets and on N.C. Hwy. 12 when the left turn is blocked. The Council will be studying the effects on traffic flow.
Mayor Tom Bennett dissented from the June 1 vote to authorize three no-left-turn weekends this summer, but seems to have been convinced since then to take action by what he called at the Council’s June 16 workshop meeting the “unhealthy situation” posed by cut-through traffic.
(The Mayor is featured in a You Tube video about the cut-through traffic and the no-left-turn weekends that was posted in yesterday’s Town newsletter.)
Mayor Bennett initiated a plan to prohibit drivers from turning left from eastbound 158 on to South Dogwood Trail over the weekends of June 20-21 and June 27-28—which the Town Council unanimously approved—but only the June 20-21 no-left-turn weekend took effect.
The second weekend was canceled, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey told The Beacon, because the Town did not have police resources to dedicate to the event, and the Town of Kitty Hawk, which has jurisdiction at the U.S. Hwy. 158 intersection, would not sign off on the weekend without police presence being guaranteed. (See The Beacon, 6/21/20.)
The Town Council is scheduled at its Tuesday meeting to vote upon a budget amendment to cover the costs for the three no-left-turn weekends, as well as to consider a resolution prepared by Town Attorney Ben Gallop that gives notice to surrounding jurisdictions and to “mapping and traffic direction application vendors” that the left turn on to South Dogwood Trail will be prohibited during the three weekends.
The Beacon expects both the budget amendment and the resolution to be approved unanimously.
See pages 31-34 of the meeting packet for wording of the resolution, which has a lengthy preamble with 19 “whereas” clauses, setting forth the Town’s reasoning, and only three substantive paragraphs: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Meeting-Packet_2020-07-07.pdf.
Each no-left-turn weekend is budgeted to cost $6,500: $3,700 for the rental of barrels to place in the left-turn lane on U.S. Hwy. 158, and $2,800 for two police officers to observe the intersection and ensure enforcement.
Tommy Karole, chairperson of the citizens’ committee to study cut-through traffic, has advised the Town Council that the Global Positioning System (GPS) and WAZE, a GPS navigation app that gives live traffic alerts about congestion, will not send drivers on to streets that municipalities have closed by ordinance.
A resolution does not have the effect of law, which a town ordinance is. We will be interested to learn Tuesday from Mr. Gallop or new Town Manager Cliff Ogburn whether either or both has had contact with GPS and WAZE about their recognition and enforcement of a resolution.
It certainly cannot hurt to have the Town give notice of its intentions to block the no-left turn on three weekends, starting today.
As usual, we welcome your observations and comments concerning traffic on your street, wherever you live in Southern Shores. Please feel free to contribute comments on the Beacon blog or on the Beacon’s Facebook page. Thank you.
As we write this (between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.), we hear and see a heavy flow of traffic traveling on Hickory Trail in both directions. This has become commonplace with weekly vacation home renters being asked to vacate at 9 a.m.
TOWN COUNCIL TO SPEND MONEY ON TUESDAY
Tuesday’s Council meeting is top-heavy with the consideration of FY 2020-21 budget amendments, the most expensive of which is $437,676 to be appropriated for payment of the engineering, design, and permitting phase in the Town’s 2022 beach nourishment project.
According to the amendment, $250,000 of this appropriation will eventually be paid by Dare County, which offers this amount to municipalities for studies related to beach nourishment.
The Town of Southern Shores paid for its own beach-profile and beach-management studies, without seeking funding from Dare County, but, according to former Interim Town Manager Wes Haskett, the County will give it $250,000 for the engineering-design phase of its nourishment project.
The Town’s contractor is Coastal Protection Engineering of North Carolina, formerly known as APTIM, and the project manager is CPE-NC’s president, Ken Willson, who has managed all of Southern Shores’ short-term beach studies and recommended that the Town conduct nourishment to protect the shoreline from future potential catastrophic storm damage.
Other budget amendments before the Council Tuesday are reappropriations of monies approved in FY 2019-20, including:
- $10,000 for the installation of a fence at the new Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Dept. station, which is still not finished. This fence is for the protection of adjacent private landowners.
- $8,265 for painting the Southern Shores Police Department building.
- $15,200 for the construction of crosswalks at the intersection of East Dogwood Trail and Hickory Trail and at East Dogwood Trail and Woodland Drive.
The Town Council also plans to resume its discussion about the repaving/reconstruction of Dewberry Lane, which is a short road off of Bayberry Trail on which three houses front. The Town has already spent $10,302.50 on this road project: $1,600 for surveying, $3,715 for “testing,” and $4987.50 for engineering, according to a summary of costs that appears on page 28 of the meeting packet.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic compelled the Town Council to retreat on capital improvement expenses in FY 2020-21, the Town received two bids on the Dewberry Lane project, the lowest of which came from RPC Contracting, Inc. RPC has informed the Town that it will honor its price of $82,250, if the Council decides to move forward.
The Council appropriated $198,759 for infrastructure projects in its FY 2020-21 budget.
Spending more than $92,000 on redoing Dewberry Lane, a quaint side street that only gets traffic coming and going to three residences, seems excessive to us. But the Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee assigned Dewberry Lane a priority status, and the Town put the road reconstruction project out for bid.
Dewberry Lane will become a cul de sac with curbing like other formerly quaint side streets in Southern Shores, such as nearby Mistletoe Lane, have become.
As usual, there will be two public-comment periods during the Town Council’s Tuesday meeting.
Town Hall will be closed Monday for the Fourth of July holiday.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
Please avoid crowds and wear your mask! We will not be able to stop the spread of COVID-19 locally if people do not observe basic infection-control measures and conform their behavior to simple public-health recommendations.
Plus, we are not crazy about publishing COVID-19 case updates. They take us away from reporting on Southern Shores business.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/4/20