Good afternoon, everyone:
From what we observed and heard from Southern Shores residents, yesterday’s left-turn prohibition produced mixed results, but, generally, it had a positive effect.
Some of you reported traffic backups on the northern end of Sea Oats Trail that started as early as 9 a.m.—for those closest to Duck Road—and did not subside until 5:30 p.m.
Sea Oats Trail resident Ursula Bateman said that as of 1:30 p.m. her street was “wall-to-wall” with traffic, the backup of which she estimated started around 10:30 a.m.
Many drivers, Ms. Bateman said, came up from Sound View Trail, in the belief they could save time by taking that semi-circular road that connects to Sea Oats Trail at both ends. This is a regular occurrence on summer weekends, she said.
Ms. Bateman also reported witnessing her first “bathroom break” on the lawn across the street from her home around 11:30 a.m.
On Hillcrest Drive, however, the traffic backups were sporadic, not continuous. By 5:30-6 p.m. yesterday, Vicky Green, who lives on Hillcrest Drive near the tennis courts, said it was “all clear.”
“Traffic was not bad at all during the day,” Ms. Green observed.
Others saw motorists turning around at the Marketplace, at Duck Woods Drive, and even in the middle of U.S. Hwy. 158 before the “Welcome to Southern Shores” sign in order to double back to South Dogwood Trail and turn right.
Michael Walton, who watched nine vehicles turn around in Duck Woods Drive in an estimated span of 10 minutes, said the first driver in the line “actually sat in the 158 turn lane into Duck Woods so long she either fell asleep or was ‘recalculating.’”
It is a shame she did not recalculate and head east on U.S. 158. Others might have followed.
Still others witnessed motorists traveling to Food Lion and then turning around, which is a predictable detour that cannot be prevented.
Recalling the June 2018 and last month’s no-left-turn weekends, we would say that the U-turn frequency yesterday was much higher than previously experienced.
Perhaps the fact that it was the Fourth of July, and more people were on the road than typically are in June, influenced the increase. No question, there was a steady flow of motorists using the cut-through route yesterday after having turned around to avoid the left-turn prohibition.
We did not hear yesterday from anyone on Wax Myrtle Trail, Juniper Trail/Trinitie Trail, or Duck Road. We hope no news was good news.
Despite the earlier arrivals and the U-turners, we think the volume of cut-through traffic yesterday was less than it would have been without the left-turn prohibition in effect. The traffic-count data will tell us more.
People tend to try to arrive on a Saturday, especially when it is a holiday, early enough so that they can enjoy the evening in the Outer Banks.
Based on the traffic volume alone, the barrels blocking the left-turn lane could have been removed at 6 p.m.
In June 2018, the left-turn prohibition was in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. We are not sure why the Town Council elected to try different hours. It is an issue worth discussing.
Please weigh in with your comments about yesterday’s no-left-turn experience.
Today, we experienced a rush of motorists leaving the beach via Hickory Trail between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., but the arriving traffic has been very slight. It is peaceful on the road. We suspect the traffic flow on U.S. Hwy 158-east is moving well.
If you would like to submit a public comment about the NLT weekend to the Town Council for its Tuesday meeting, you may email Town Clerk Sheila Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the subject line, “Public Comment for July 7 Town Council Meeting” and be sure to include your name and address.
Remember, you will not receive an acknowledgment of your email until Tuesday because Town Hall is closed tomorrow.
You also may appear in person to comment. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center. Seating will be limited by social-distancing restrictions.
Thank you, everyone. Enjoy your Sunday.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/5/20