3/29/21: TRAFFIC COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS TOWN COUNCIL ENACT TRAFFIC-CALMING ORDINANCE THAT WOULD PREVENT CUT-THRU TRAFFIC, SPEEDING ON TOWN ROADS; OUTLINES OTHER SOLUTIONS. MSDs’ Approval Requires 2 Votes by Council at Separate Meetings.

In recent years, Southern Shores homeowners have posted their own signage to deter cut-thru traffic. Erection of this sign on a South Dogwood Trail yard pre-dates construction of the eastside sidewalk.

Tommy Karole, the chairperson of the citizens’ Exploratory Committee to Address Cut-Thru Traffic, has provided The Beacon with a copy of the written report he submitted to the Town of Southern Shores on March 15. We reproduce it, with editing changes for style and clarity–but with Mr. Karole’s boldfacing and underlining–below:

Traffic Committee’s Recommendation for an Ordinance

All long- and short-term solutions suggested below should be supported by a traffic calming ordinance that prevents cut-thru traffic and excessive speeds on local roads, thereby promoting public health, safety, and welfare for the citizens of the Town of Southern Shores. An ordinance will help ensure that phone traffic navigation apps such as Waze and Google Maps will reroute traffic accordingly. An ordinance alone will go a long way toward accomplishing our goal of eliminating cut-thru traffic in Southern Shores.

Traffic Committee’s Short-Term Traffic Mitigation Recommendations

The traffic committee supports the recommendation of [consultant] J.M. Teague Engineering and Planning to install a gate on South Dogwood Trail, [but the committee recommends that] this gate be closed on Saturdays and Sundays from May 1 through September 30. The committee recommends placement of this gate at the entrance of South Dogwood Trail and [agrees with the J.M. Teague report that it] should be supported by signage on U.S. Hwy. 158, alerting drivers that South Dogwood Trail is CLOSED.  In addition, the left-turn arrow at the U.S Hwy. 158 intersection should remain RED. This short-term, inexpensive solution would offer the citizens cut-thru traffic relief during the 2021 summer season and allow the Town of Southern Shores time to implement a long-term solution.

Radio Frequency-Controlled Gates

The radio frequency-controlled gates, mentioned below in the Long-Term Mitigation Recommendations, are economical and eliminate the need for on-site staff or police. These gates allow a small windshield tag to control opening of the gate from approximately 18 feet. A tamper-resistant option is available at no additional cost. Tags should be distributed to property owners only, in a manner similar to the Town of Southern Shores parking permits. If convenient for the Town staff, tags could be incorporated into Town of Southern Shores parking permits. These gates not only solve the problem of cut-thru traffic traveling north but [they would] also trigger navigation apps to block traffic leaving the northern beaches and traveling south through Southern Shores.  If needed, the traffic committee would be happy to share information and to do additional research on tags and gates.

[Mr. Karole provided an example of a tag that looks like a product bar code.]

Cut-Through Traffic Committee’s Long-Term Mitigation Recommendations

Gates

We recommend installation of TWO year-round radio frequency-controlled gates located at A) the entrance to South Dogwood Trail, OR on South Dogwood Trail near Widgeon Court AND  B) Juniper Trail.  Turnarounds would need to be installed to allow vehicles ample space to maneuver.  A gate at the entrance to South Dogwood Trail would be left open during the school year at pickup and drop-off times (for example, 7 am to 9 am and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.) to accommodate Kitty Hawk Elementary School parents and staff. Traffic engineers should be consulted to determine the best placement of the gates.

Hinged Seasonal Signage

Hinged folding signs would allow for easy control of seasonal signage. [Mr. Karole’s report includes examples of such signage.]

Signs Saying Road Closed to Thru Traffic and/or Local Traffic Only tell you that you need to take a different route and should only enter if you have no other option to reach your destination.

For example, if the driveway to your home or worksite can only be accessed on the restricted roadway, you are local traffic and not thru traffic. If your destination is beyond that stretch of road, you should take another route. These signs need to be supported by local ordinance. The installation of these signs would trigger traffic apps such as Waze and Google Maps to reroute traffic and would discourage travelers from exiting off Duck Road to access residential streets. The committee suggests consulting with a traffic engineer to discuss the most effective placement of seasonal signage.  The committee would like to share with the engineers the following suggestions:

Seasonal Signage Suggestions

A) A Do Not Enter Sign should be placed on Ocean Boulevard at the cellular tower [Duck Road split] to prevent people from traveling north to Hickory Trail [then cutting over to Duck Road].

B) Do Not Enter Signs should be placed at the east entrance to Porpoise Run, Trout Run, and Dolphin Run [off of Duck Road] (prevents the same cut-over to Duck Road at Hickory Trail).

C) Do Not Enter Signs should be placed at the west entrance to Porpoise Run and Dolphin Run [off of Duck Road] (prevents passage north via Wax Myrtle Trail).

D) Stay on Route 12–No Thru Traffic Allowed signage should be located on Duck Road between Chicahauk Trail and Porpoise Run AND between Trout Run and East Dogwood Trail. 

E)  Local Traffic-Only Signs should be placed at the entrance to Wax Myrtle Trail, Sea Oats Trail, Hillcrest Drive, and Hickory Trail, off of East Dogwood Trail (prevents northbound travel by unauthorized vehicles and triggers navigation apps).

F)  Stay on Route 12—No Thru-Traffic Allowed signage should be located on Duck Road between East Dogwood Trail and Hickory Trail (to discourage cutting through on northern portions of Wax Myrtle, Sea Oats, and Hillcrest). 

Mr. Karole first presented the recommendations of the traffic committee verbally at a public meeting March 11 with the committee’s two Town Council sponsors/advisers, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Morey and Councilman Matt Neal. (See The Beacon, 3/11/21).

Since that meeting the Town Council has held a fiscal year 2021-22 budget workshop during which both techniques and costs for cut-thru traffic mitigation for this summer came up for discussion. (See The Beacon, 3/17/21.)

Council members indicated at this March 16 budget workshop that they support prohibiting the left turn from U.S. Hwy. 158-east on to South Dogwood Trail over eight summertime weekends, starting in late June. Town Manager Cliff Ogburn also made reference to four streets at which, The Beacon confirmed later, the Town is considering erecting “Local Traffic Only” signs and barricades to prevent northbound traffic from entering them off of East Dogwood Trail.

Those four streets are Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail.

Mr. Ogburn has not yet presented the Town’s plan for mitigating cut-thru traffic this summer, which the Town Manager said he has been developing with Police Chief David Kole’s assistance, and the Town Council has not yet approved any cut-thru traffic mitigation plan.

MSDs, TAXES, AND TOWN COUNCIL’S BUDGET MEETING SCHEDULE

Barring the scheduling of a special meeting before then, the Council’s next meeting is a regular monthly meeting to be held Tuesday, April 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center—a week later than usual because of local schools’ spring break time.

The agenda has not been released yet for the April 13 meeting, but the Town Council will definitely be taking a vote then on whether or not to establish any municipal service districts for purposes of funding beach nourishment by levying higher taxes on property owners on or near the oceanfront.

(The Beacon has written extensively about the proposed municipal service districts, most recently on 3/17/21, in a report on the Town Council’s March 16 MSD public hearing.)

N.C. law requires these service districts to be defined in a Town ordinance and for the Town Council to approve the adoption of that ordinance by a majority vote of the members present at two separate meetings. See NCGS sec. 160A-537(f).

It is likely that a morning budget workshop will be held on Tuesday, April 20, but the Town has not announced one yet. If the Town Council approves the MSD ordinance on April 13, it will likely take its second vote at the April 20 workshop, and proceed to set tax rates for the districts and the Town, to finance both beach nourishment and the general Town operating fund.

The Council could decide to hold another budget workshop on or around April 27, however.

Mr. Ogburn has said that he will have a Town Manager’s recommended FY 2021-22 budget ready to present to the Town Council at its May 4 regular meeting.

This budget must be balanced. At the March 16 budget workshop, Mr. Ogburn reported a shortfall of more than $1 million in his preliminary revenue-expense calculation.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 3/29/21

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