You will see many signs like this in Southern Shores this weekend, but no chains.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn has decided not to close Hickory Trail this weekend and to keep the median on East Dogwood Trail, which was blocked to left-turning northbound traffic by chains last Saturday, open to all traffic.

The left-turn prohibition at U.S. Hwy. 158 and South Dogwood Trail will be in effect on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mr. Ogburn told The Beacon today.

In explaining his decision to reverse an earlier one to close Hickory Trail to all traffic this weekend, and to continue using chained barricades, the Town Manager said in a release posted today on the Town website that “We are getting mixed feedback [from residents about] the closure of the median along East Dogwood Trail.

“Clearly,” he continued, “any steps we take to re-route the cut-through traffic results in varying impacts to different parts of town.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Ogburn told The Beacon that he had received “mixed responses” from residents, some of them angry, about the chains that were drawn last weekend across the East Dogwood Trail median at the intersections of Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail. He also told us that he was rethinking his decision to close Hickory Trail this weekend.

(See The Beacon, 7/13/21.)

According to his statement today, local-traffic-only barricades will continue in place this weekend at eight locations: Four off of East Dogwood Trail at Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail, for all traffic going north; three off of Hickory Trail at Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail, for all northbound traffic; and one on Hillcrest Drive for all traffic going north on Sea Oats Trail.

According to Mr. Ogburn’s release, the Town’s traffic count data show that 93 more vehicles passed through Southern Shores via South and East Dogwood trails last Saturday, when the median was blocked by chains, than did on Saturday, June 26, when the left-turn ban was in effect, but the median was open.

Mr. Ogburn cites in his release some percentage increases and decreases of traffic, between June 26 and last Saturday, on the side streets off of East Dogwood Trail.

According to traffic count data, he said, both Hickory Trail (149 percent more) and Wax Myrtle Trail (143 percent more) experienced increased traffic because of the median barricades, while Hillcrest Drive (30 percent fewer) and Sea Oats Trail (35 percent fewer in 200 block; 14 percent in 300 block) had a decline.

“The negative impacts taken from the traffic data,” Mr. Ogburn observed, “indicate that those on Wax Myrtle Trail and Hickory Trail received a negative impact disproportionate to the benefits of those on Sea Oats Trail and Hillcrest Drive.”

This corresponds to feedback that the Town Manager received from residents, as well as to comments posted on The Beacon blog and Facebook pages.

Traffic driving through Chicahauk on Juniper Trail increased 25 percent last Saturday over the June 26 volume, Mr. Ogburn added, noting that the Town is keeping track of spillover traffic from South Dogwood Trail to Juniper/Trinitie trails.

There currently is “no plan to continue the median closures along East Dogwood Trail or [to close] off Hickory Trail at either East Dogwood Trail or Hillcrest Drive,” Mr. Ogburn concluded.

Closing the median on East Dogwood Trail “will require a more permanent and secure measure, otherwise vehicles will plow right through,” Mr. Ogburn told The Beacon today in an email. Indeed, last Saturday, someone did drive through one of the chains.

To read the Town Manager’s full statement on the traffic, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/summer-cut-thru-traffic-impacts/

Mr. Ogburn thanked residents for their “patience while we continue to explore options to mitigate traffic while also trying to limit the impacts on year-round residents and on those that need to come through Southern Shores for work purposes.”

On average, more than 11,000 vehicles drive through Southern Shores each weekend, he said.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 7/15/21


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