As of today, you can add Wednesday to the days when summer vacationer traffic cuts through Southern Shores on South Dogwood Trail.

Yes, that was cut-thru traffic that you saw all afternoon streaming up South Dogwood Trail, running the stop sign at East Dogwood Trail, turning left on Hickory Trail, and then making another left on Hillcrest Drive.

Homeowners in the 200 block of Wax Myrtle Trail also reported watching a steady flow of cut-thru traffic on their street during the afternoon. They traced it to traffic turning off of a backed-up Duck Road at Porpoise Run and Dolphin Run.

I also saw “jump-off” traffic on Ocean Boulevard north of the Duck Road split, as I came and went several times today from the Southern Shores woods to the beach.

Bob Woodard , chairperson of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, recorded a videotaped message last Friday in which he asked Dare residents to “be respectful” and “patient with those around us,” as we experience “record-high visitation numbers at Dare County beaches and attractions” this summer.

The cut-thru traffic in Southern Shores yesterday and Monday was noticeably greater than it usually is on a week day during the summer, but it did not reach the volume of traffic heading north on our roads today. 

At different times, northbound traffic on N.C. Hwy. 12 backed up to Chicahauk Trail.  

Mr. Woodard advised us in his message that we are going to be confronting “some challenges” this summer, “particularly in the amount of traffic” on the roads.

He told us to “expect some delays and traffic jams on [our] way to work and to visit [our] friends and family,” as well as “longer lines and wait times” at restaurants and at shops.

He told us to be “prepared” for these challenges and to make allowances, as he once again held aloft King Midas’s golden cup of vacationers’ money, calling our out-of-town visitors “the lifeblood of Dare County.”

You may recall that we heard that same refrain last summer when the tourist hordes arrived in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Woodard told us then: “Be respectful. Be patient.” Nice words. I don’t disagree.

At no time in his four-minute video, however, did Mr. Woodard ever mention what Dare County would do to help to alleviate the congestion, the crowds, the unsafe conditions, the sheer misery in what the Chairman called “our little slice of Outer Banks paradise.”

Government unquestionably played a role in creating the “challenges.” So where is government now? Backing up to a laissez-faire stance, taping messages about respect.

I know tourism makes resort areas go round. No surprise there.

I also know how resort areas are ruined by over-developing land with high-occupancy “structures” like those you see on the Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head oceanfronts, one after another, where modest cottages and family motels once stood, and by constructing over-sized houses in remote places that are not served by adequate infrastructure.

Sorry, Mr. Woodard, telling me to be patient just doesn’t cut it.  

It took me an hour and 15 minutes to travel round-trip today from the intersection of East and South Dogwood trails to the Outer Banks Hospital–an essential errand–and I considered that good time.

It was the middle of the day; the sun was shining brightly; and people were on the U.S. Hwy. 158 bypass, jamming it up, as if a mandatory evacuation were in effect.

I took Woods Road to Kitty Hawk Road to the bypass and stayed on it until I reached the Dare Centre. At that point, I saw no future in driving on the highway and diverted to the beach road. I returned to the bypass at Dowdy’s Park, near the YMCA, and took it past the Nags Head Woods Preserve and Jockey’s Ridge, and on to the hospital.

Thank goodness for the nature preserves and parks. If only the Outer Banks had more.

I’m going to give you better advice than the Chairman of the Dare County Commission gave you: Avoid N.C. 12 in Southern Shores and take the beach road if you have to drive anywhere south of the Kitty Hawk Post Office.

I also encourage restaurant owners and other businesspeople to remember their local clientele by offering us special incentives (discounts, hours, nights) for coming out. We don’t want to avoid you, but patience can only get us so far.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/23/21



    1. This may come as a shock to you, Dave, but Woods Road is a thoroughfare. So are N.C. 12 and U.S. 158. Dogwood Trail is not. You might have noticed that the speed limit on Woods Road is 35 mph, not 25 mph, like it is on Dogwood Trail. That’s a tipoff. Also the fact that Dogwood Trail is not open at both ends. It dead ends in a cul de sac.


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