Photographs of the local-traffic-only barricades that the Town proposes using this summer are made of concrete and can be driven around, but not through. They are walls, not mere fences. Last summer’s model, shown above on Hickory Trail at East Dogwood Trail, was easily moved aside.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn is recommending that the Town Council approve closing Hickory Trail at East Dogwood Trail and placing local-traffic-only barriers in northbound lanes at other key road accesses in the dunes and in Chicahauk—among the summer weekend traffic mitigation measures that he outlined at the public forum Tuesday—but not blocking outlets on to Duck Road, according to a report he filed for the Council’s May 3 meeting, which was posted yesterday on the Town’s website.

(For background on the Town’s summer traffic plan, see The Beacon, 4/27/22.)

Mr. Ogburn is also recommending that the Council close Ocean Boulevard during peak summer weekend hours at the Duck Road split, near the cell tower, so motorists cannot use the local road to bypass traffic backups on the N.C. 12 thoroughfare between the split and Hickory Trail. (At least, not until Porpoise Run, which is a block north of the split.)

For a summary of the mitigation measures discussed at the forum and Mr. Ogburn’s recommendation, see page 58 of the meeting agenda packet at https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/ soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Packet-0fed0c2da0a14989b65c6bb0d764dc6c.pdf.

According to the meeting agenda, the Council will take up the proposed summer traffic plan as the second item of new business, after the first public-comment period. In the first new item, Mr. Ogburn will establish with the Council a date for a public hearing on the Town’s FY 2022-23 budget, which the Town Manager has not yet published online. 

See the agenda at https://mccmeetings.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/soshoresnc-pubu/MEET-Agenda-0fed0c2da0a14989b65c6bb0d764dc6c.pdf.

The proposed traffic plan combines a number of measures by which the Town seeks to encourage northbound motorists passing through Southern Shores to stay on U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 and not cut through on residential roads.

In addition to road closures and obstructions, the Town’s plan envisions reaching arriving visitors through property managers at rental companies; using road signage informing visitors that travel is faster on the thoroughfares; and making adjustments to travel apps, such as Waze.

The locations where Mr. Ogburn recommends erecting local-traffic-only northern lane barriers are:

Hillcrest Drive and Sea Oats Trail

Hickory and Wax Myrtle Trail

Hickory Trail and Sea Oats Trail

Hickory Trail and Hillcrest Drive

East Dogwood Trail and Wax Myrtle Trail

East Dogwood Trail and Sea Oats Trail

East Dogwood Trail and Hillcrest Drive

Juniper Trail past the Marketplace entrance

(The latter is an addition to the locations mentioned at the public forum.)

Mr. Ogburn also discussed at the forum closing outlets on to Duck Road from Sea Oats Trail, Eleventh Avenue, Hillcrest Drive, and Hickory Trail, but he is not currently recommending that these closures be made. The Town Council may decide otherwise, and it may consider closures and barriers along other sections of town roads. 

Porpoise Run, which connects Duck Road with Ocean Boulevard, is a block north of the proposed Ocean Boulevard closure. Trout Run, Dolphin Run, East Dogwood Trail, and Periwinkle Place also intersect with Duck Road and are other jumping-off points for frustrated northbound visitors.

The Town has decided not to prohibit the left turn from U.S. 158-east on to South Dogwood Trail, a mitigation technique that has been used effectively in recent summers to reduce cut-through traffic volume.

This decision was made without any public discussion by the Town Council. Indeed, the Council, with the exception of Mayor Elizabeth Morey, sat quietly on the sideline Tuesday during the presentation and critique of the traffic plan—with the exception of a few comments by Councilman Matt Neal in response to a homeowner’s remarks about cell-phone technology.

Next Tuesday’s meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center. You may live-stream it at https://www.youtube.com/user/TownofSouthernShores.

BEACON NOTE: Due to a conflict, I will be unable to attend or live-stream the Town Council’s meeting. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who attends or views the meeting about the action that the Council takes on the traffic plan and any other news that you may choose to report. You may email me at ssbeaconeditor@gmail.com. Thank you.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 4/29/22


Town Manager Cliff Ogburn yesterday outlined a summer weekend traffic “mitigation” plan that would close outlets on cut-through residential roads in Southern Shores and place “local traffic only” barricades at other access points along the roads, but would not include prohibiting the left turn on to South Dogwood Trail from U.S. 158-east or closing South Dogwood Trail to non-local traffic by means of a gate or other control.

The plan, said Mayor Elizabeth Morey, who served as what she called a “referee” during yesterday’s public information meeting on traffic at the Pitts Center, is designed to keep vehicles on U.S. 158 and N.C. Hwy. 12.

Besides closing and limiting access to Southern Shores residential roads on the cut-through routes, the Town would seek to persuade northbound vacationers via mobile road signage and other informational means, including cell-phone apps, that “cars mov[e] through town faster on 12,” the Mayor said.

Ms. Morey opened the meeting, which was live-streamed and is available for viewing on the Town’s You Tube site, by announcing that “We’re not here to solve the traffic problem.” That, she said, would require “a magic wand.” Rather, the Mayor and Mr. Ogburn sought to present well-thought-out “options” for mitigating cut-through traffic, some or all of which may be implemented this summer.

(You may view the meeting videotape at https://www.youtube.com/user/TownofSouthernShores.)

Before doing so, however, the pair first dispensed with what the Town is “not recommending”—the most controversial being a continuation of the left-turn prohibition at the 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection, which has been the chief tool in recent years to reduce cut-through traffic.

“We can’t say [the turn prohibition] has an impact to a magnitude of $40,000 a year,” Mr. Ogburn said in explaining the discontinuation, without explaining how such a cost-benefit calculation would be made.

The Town Manager made no mention of the traffic-count data that the Town has collected on the impacted roads when the left turn prohibition is in effect and when it is not. He and the Mayor both made clear simply that the new plan takes the Town in a different direction with different tactics.

As to gating or otherwise limiting access to South Dogwood Trail to local traffic, Mr. Ogburn said attorneys have advised the Town that it cannot discriminate among motorists using the public street by their destinations and that the Town “must treat all the same.”

When pressed on the legalities, the Town Manager described the question as a matter of constitutional law, but he cited no legal precedent or authority, only “legal advice.”

(To discriminate among motorists on the basis of their origin–for example, by looking at license plates–would be wrong-headed. The road closure would have to be for the purpose of limiting traffic to local traffic only.)

Both the professional traffic consultant whom the Town hired and the citizens’ advisory committee on cut-through traffic recommended gating South Dogwood Trail and permitting only Southern Shores residents and guests to access it on summer weekends.

The road closures and barriers that Mr. Ogburn recommended as options along the South/East Dogwood Trail-to-the-dunes cut-through route are designed to keep northbound motorists on East Dogwood Trail and out of the dunes. Indeed, South Dogwood Trail and East Dogwood Trail would be the only roads into and out of the Southern Shores woods and dunes for all motorists on summer weekends during the peak hours of travel.   

Under the Town’s plan, Hickory Trail would be closed to all traffic at its intersection with East Dogwood Trail, and Sea Oats Trail, Eleventh Avenue, Hillcrest Drive, and Hickory Trail would be closed at their intersections with Hwy. 12 (Duck Road).

During public discussion of the Duck Road intersection closures, Mr. Ogburn acknowledged, in response to resident concern, that traffic flow farther south on Porpoise Run and Dolphin Run, which connect Duck Road with Wax Myrtle Trail, also might need to be blocked.

Mr. Ogburn further proposed closing Ocean Boulevard to all traffic at the Duck Road split near the cell tower to prevent motorists from using the road as a shortcut around Duck Road traffic backups from the split to Hickory Trail.

The “Road Closed/Local Traffic Only” barriers that the Town proposes would be placed at the same seven locations that such barriers were used last summer, only they would be made of more substantial material–Mr. Ogburn’s graphics showed concrete obstructions–and not be as easily circumvented.

The seven locations include the entries to Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail at East Dogwood Trail, as well as entry points farther north along these three principal north-sound roads in the dunes.

Mr. Ogburn indicated that the use of such barricades would be subject to continuing assessment of their effectiveness. In general, the Town Manager, with the support of the Town Council, has shown a willingness to improvise if the need arises. 

Cut-through traffic advisory committee chairperson Tommy Karole yesterday spoke strongly against the Town’s plan, saying it would not work and could open the Town up to liability in the event emergency vehicles are prevented from reaching destinations in Southern Shores in as quick a manner as they would without the closures and barricades.

Mr. Ogburn and Mayor Morey will present the Town’s traffic plan to the Dare County Tourism Board at its meeting tomorrow morning in Manteo. As her comments yesterday made clear, the Mayor has been actively networking with community representatives who can assist Southern Shores with keeping traffic on the thoroughfares, including property managers at rental companies in the Currituck Outer Banks. 

We would characterize the Town’s plan as two-pronged, one prong being the use of physical impediments along the cut-through route to discourage motorists from leaving the thoroughfares, and the other being a public-information campaign to do the same. We may write more about the plan after the Town Council’s May 3 meeting, when it will be formally presented and discussed.

The Council’s agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting has not yet been posted on the Town website.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 4/27/22 


Tickets for the April 30 flat top tour may be purchased at the Clarke-Gudas Cottage (pictured above), at 156 Wax Myrtle Trail, during the hours of the tour, as well as at the Outer Banks Community Foundation office on Skyline Road. Admission is $10; $15 for two.

The Town will hold a public information meeting on Tuesday (April 26) at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center to address potential traffic mitigation measures that may be implemented this summer.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn will be presenting a “draft plan of potential traffic calming measures” to use during summertime weekends, according to yesterday’s Town newsletter.

Southern Shores residents will have the opportunity to ask questions at Tuesday’s meeting about the proposed traffic mitigation plan and to comment critically on its anticipated effectiveness.

Mr. Ogburn will likely present a draft plan for cut-through traffic control to the Town Council for its consideration and approval at its May 3 meeting.

Last summer the Town arranged with the N.C. Dept. of Transportation to prohibit turning left on to South Dogwood Trail from N.C. 158-East during certain hours on summer weekends and experimented with erecting barriers along heavily traveled residential roads in the dunes, including Hickory Trail, Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail, and Wax Myrtle Trail.

Both a professional traffic consultant’s report, which the Town commissioned, and a Southern Shores citizens’ advisory committee on cut-through traffic recommended closure of South Dogwood Trail to non-resident traffic on summer weekends. The Town Council did not endorse this recommendation and held no public discussions about gating South Dogwood Trail.

The Town Council has vested full authority in Mr. Ogburn to devise a plan of action on cut-through traffic. Elected officials no longer take the lead on such initiatives—at least not publicly. 

Tuesday’s meeting will be recorded and available by live-stream and for later viewing on the Town’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/user/TownofSouthernShores.


The Southern Shores historic flat top cottage tour is back in force this year with 14 houses open for viewing next Saturday, April 30, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 each (two for $15) and are available for purchase during tour times at 156 Wax Myrtle Trail and 13 Skyline Road (the Outer Banks Community Foundation). All proceeds benefit the Flat Top Preservation Fund of the OBCF.   

The tour is self-guided and includes the following flat tops, located from north to south:

218 Ocean Blvd., the Mackey Cottage

176A and 176B Ocean Blvd., the Price cottages

170 Ocean Blvd., “Pink Perfection,” originally owned by Edith Pipkin

169 Ocean Blvd., “Atlantic Breezes”

157 Ocean Blvd., “Sea Breezes”

23 Porpoise Run, the Sokol-Clements Cottage

159 Wax Myrtle Trail, the Falconer Cottage

156 Wax Myrtle Trail, the Clarke-Gudas Cottage

113 Ocean Blvd., the Knight Cottage

69 Ocean Blvd., “Sea Spray”

43 Ocean Blvd., the Powell-Harritt Cottage

40 Skyline Road, “Beach Box Flat Top (Mitchell)”

13 Skyline Road, the OBCF office

The homes at 23 Porpoise Run, 156 Wax Myrtle Trail, 170 Ocean Blvd., and 218 Ocean Blvd. have been designated by the Town of Southern Shores as Southern Shores historic landmarks.

Further information about the tour is available on the Facebook page of the Southern Shores Historic Flat Top Cottages at https://www.facebook.com/Southern-Shores-Historic-Flat-Top-Cottages-421136131314749. You also may contact tour organizers Sally and Steve Gudas at seatide1@gmail.com or (804) 399-8342.

We encourage you to tour these historic homes that once dominated Southern Shores’ architectural landscape and meet the owners who maintain and preserve them for the benefit of everyone who loves the Outer Banks. They are a quaint reminder of a peaceful yesteryear when there was no need for a town traffic mitigation meeting because there was no traffic—nor was there a town.


A NOTE ABOUT THE BEACON: Last November we said that we were suspending publication of The Beacon for between three and six months. It has now been nearly six months, and while we are not committed to resuming the demanding schedule of reporting that we had before last November, we would like to drop into your lives every now and then with news items. We could not let the traffic meeting go unnoticed by Beacon readers who do not read the Town website or the Town newsletter. We also wanted to welcome the return of the flat top tour after an interruption of two years caused by the COVID pandemic.

Since November we have resumed working on a book project that we set aside in favor of The Beacon. Publishing that book is now our priority and will largely determine how often we report on The Beacon.

MAY 17 PRIMARY: We anticipate writing soon about the May 17 primary election, which, on the local and state level, concerns only Republican Party candidates. The only primary choices available to registered Democrats in Dare County are among the candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives (the seat currently held by Dr. Greg Murphy) and the U.S. Senate (Senator Richard Burr is retiring). Early voting for the primary begins Thursday, April 28, and will be held at the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall, as well as in Manteo and Buxton.  

Thank you.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 4/23/22