Residents of Hillcrest Drive seem to have borne the brunt of the cut-thru traffic in Southern Shores yesterday when both a left-turn ban from U.S. Hwy 158 on to South Dogwood Trail and “local-traffic-only” road closures were in effect, according to reports received by The Beacon from homeowners as well as comments posted on our Facebook page that were mixed, but mostly favorable.
(In a background story on 6/18/21 about this weekend’s traffic mitigation, we called the addition of road closures to the left-turn ban at the 158 intersection “Plan B.” The Town Council authorized Town Manager Cliff Ogburn to implement the Plan B local-traffic-only barriers if, in his sole discretion, he thought they were warranted.)
Homeowners in the 300 block of Wax Myrtle Trail, where traffic—including a commercial-size bus—came to a standstill on Memorial Day weekend for hours, emailed The Beacon that “Whatever the town did today 100 percent solved our problem at this end of town. . . . [There was] absolutely no backup or cut-through traffic of any type” yesterday. The couple described the change as “Absolutely wonderful.”
“Without question, the Local Traffic Only signs were a success!” emailed another homeowner in the 200 block of Wax Myrtle Trail.
The reason for the traffic backup on Hillcrest Drive, which extended westward from Duck Road (N.C. Hwy. 12) up the hill well past the SSCA tennis courts, was obvious to any observer of the South Dogwood Trail-to-East Dogwood Trail cut-thru traffic flow: Despite a local-traffic-only barrier on Hickory Trail, out-of-towners were routinely turning left there and then taking a left on Hillcrest Drive.
With Sea Oats Trail closed because of road construction, most motorists reached N.C. Hwy. 12 via Hillcrest Drive, not Sea Oats.
Mary Ann Hurd, who lives in the closed 300 block of Sea Oats Trail, which is generally jammed with cut-thru traffic on a summer Saturday, said it was “relatively quiet” on her street yesterday. Traffic seemed to have increased today, Mrs. Hurd reported, noting, “I can hear them crunching by” on the gravel pavement.
Homeowners who live on Sea Oats Trail between Hickory Trail and Hillcrest Drive also told The Beacon that yesterday’s traffic was “relatively quiet, but we did see several cars race by quite quickly.”
Hickory Trail homeowner David Watson said he watched through traffic making illegal turns on to his street yesterday whenever he went out to walk his dog. Motorists with out-of-state license plates only obeyed the barrier, Mr. Watson said, when a police officer was on the scene. As soon as the officer left, they resumed turning illegally on to Hickory Trail.
Mr. Watson also noted that the heaviest cut-thru traffic flow on Hickory Trail occurs between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., a time when there typically is no police coverage.
While one homeowner who lives on East Dogwood Trail near Holly Trail commented that “there seemed to be more than normal traffic on East Dogwood” yesterday, it would appear that Hickory Trail, the westernmost of the four cut-thru streets restricted by the Town yesterday and today, experienced the heaviest flow of scofflaw motorists, while the other roads were largely spared.
This same homeowner said he had no trouble driving to the Hillcrest Beach in the morning, but on his way home around 2 p.m., he saw a backup of about a dozen vehicles waiting at the Hillcrest Drive-Duck Road intersection.
The Beacon heard from only one oceanfront/oceanside homeowner, who reported in the late afternoon yesterday that the “traffic wasn’t that bad on Ocean Boulevard before the [Duck Road] split and pretty non-existent on the split,” meaning on Ocean Boulevard between the cell tower park and Hickory Trail.
Remaining on Ocean Boulevard past the cell tower has been a way that northbound vacationers have tried to get around the congestion on Duck Road.
No one from Chicahauk contacted The Beacon yesterday to weigh in on road conditions there.
The Beacon looks forward to a comprehensive assessment from the Town about the effectiveness of Plan B on the weekend cut-thru traffic.
We also welcome comments from all Southern Shores residents about their experiences this weekend with traffic. We especially would like to hear from people who went through the U.S. 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection. Police presence there appears to have made a difference in the volume of traffic on South Dogwood Trail.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/20/21