We are aware of the horrendous traffic conditions yesterday on the South Dogwood Trail cut-through route and have read residents’ comments on Next Door. We elected not to cover the traffic, as we have every summer since we began publishing in 2018, because it’s old news. Déjà vu. And the déjà vu is only going to get worse now that the left-turn prohibition on U.S. 158 at South Dogwood Trail has been abandoned.
(For a report on why the no-left-turn was abandoned, see The Beacon, 5/13/22. Kitty Hawk has jurisdiction over the left-turn lane and declined to support the prohibition, but the Southern Shores Town Council had no problem with that decision because it believes faulty data purporting to show that the prohibition produced no benefit.)
We know from experience that signage doesn’t work; people ignore it. We also know that barricades don’t work as long as people can drive around them.
Yesterday morning we found out about a half-hour after Hickory Trail was closed at East Dogwood Trail that people who do not know each other will get out of their vehicles and work together to move heavy water-filled barricades enough so that they can drive their vehicles past. Seriously. We talked to homeowners who saw the maneuver.
The police had to restore the intersection and then waste their time explaining to drivers who ignored the “STOP DEAD END NO OUTLET” sign (see above) at Hillcrest Drive/Hickory Trail that they could not go through. That includes disbelieving locals who didn’t want to turn around.
Amazingly, there are people who don’t understand that taking the next block over will usually get you around a road closure. Apparently, detour signs need to be posted if the Hickory Trail closure is going to continue.
We can assure everyone who commented on Next Door that all of the traffic-calming and traffic-controlling ideas that they raised—for example, installing speed humps on certain residential roads and convincing the Town of Duck to reduce its 13 crosswalks to a less disruptive number on summer weekends—have been suggested by residents. In eight years of lobbying the Town Council, we have been very thorough in identifying all manner of techniques to discourage and/or prevent cut-through traffic.
Installation of the road closure/local traffic only barriers last summer was a big step forward, but without the left-turn prohibition, it is questionable how effective they will be. Judging from comments on Next Door, they were not very effective yesterday.
We hope everyone knows that a citizens’ committee on cut-through traffic, chaired by homeowner Tommy Karole, recommended a gate on South Dogwood Trail near the elementary school that could be raised by a transponder attached to Southern Shores property owners’ and guests’ vehicles. The professional traffic engineers that the Town Council hired to study the traffic patterns and congestion in Southern Shores also recommended a South Dogwood Trail gate and other permanent physical impediments.
The bottom line is, as the traffic consultants told the Town Council, N.C. Hwy. 12 operates over-capacity in Southern Shores on summer weekends, and northbound motorists are going to seek a way around the gridlock, regardless of what signs direct them to do or not do.
We understand Southern Shores residents’ frustrations and invite you to express yourself here, rather than on Next Door, which is not Southern Shores-specific.
Have a good Sunday.
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/12/22