6/12/22: TRAFFIC

Hickory Trail at Hillcrest Drive

Dear Neighbors:

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

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12 thoughts on “6/12/22: TRAFFIC

  1. Perhaps we need to have residents sit in lawn chairs holding the NO CUT THROUGH signs like an old fashioned picket line. Maybe..

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  2. Ann, Can I put a link to this on NextDoor? So they can see your comment about posting comments on the blog and not NextDoor?

    Malissa

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  3. I rode my bike around Saturday afternoon, and traffic was backed up on South Dogwood to 160. That was atc4:45, it probably got worse by 5:30.

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  4. As a new resident in Southern Shores, it is alarming that the town council does not consider the summer traffic a issue that needs more attention. The Town Council actually deems the citizens’ complaints are unfounded. Thank you for continuing to be an advocate for our community.

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  5. It seems like the parking lot has been moved from the side streets to East and South Dogwood (30 minutes from Fairway to the Dogwood intersection.). Brilliant! Is that better or just different?

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  6. Thank you Ann for staying on top of this important issue. I find it incomprehensible that the Southern Shores town council does not regard this problem with greater priority. Perhaps they stay sequestered in their homes on Saturdays knowing that they will not be able to navigate the town easily. Clearly the problem centers around Duck. Apparently Duck is either unable or unwilling to widen NC 12 through town which would alleviate the problem. The bridge to Corolla has been debated for 20 years and will be debated for the next 20 so I don’t see that as an early solution. As in everything in local, state or federal government until we reach critical mass our elected officials will push the issue off to tomorrow. When some catastrophic event takes place because of the traffic issue perhaps our elected officials will then take some remedial action. Until that occurs I am not hopeful for a solution.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Years ago I thought that converting the center turn lane in downtown Duck to a no-turn northbound lane in the afternoon and a no-turn southbound lane in the morning on summer weekends would alleviate the bottleneck and move traffic faster. You’d have to widen the road to three lanes just north of the downtown area and account for merging from 2 through lanes to 1 at either end, so it wouldn’t be easy—but it was a thought I had. Having police control the traffic flow on Hwy. 12 from Southern Shores through Duck is another option that I actually mentioned at a Town Council meeting. Chief Kole did not object to the idea, but it didn’t go anywhere. Law enforcement help from other jurisdictions would be necessary.

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      1. Regarding crosswalks in Duck, has anyone thought about a couple of pedestrian bridges and do away with the crosswalks altogether? I also thought the Corolla bridge had finally gotten through the legal battles and was to be built in the coming years. It wouldn’t alleviate anything now, but we need to think long term as it’s only going to get worse. I would welcome the idea of an automatic gate near the school to minimize traffic and allow residents a way in/out to run errands on weekends.

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      2. Thank you for your comment. Yes, pedestrian skywalks in Duck have been suggested. As for the bridge, the litigation is on-going. The case is now on appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Unfortunately, the bridge is years away from being built. I appreciate your comment about a gate on S. Dogwood Trail.

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  7. What happens to people that don’t live in SS, but go to church or Duck Woods via South Dogwood to avoid cutting through neighborhoods? How will a gate work for us?
    Also, as a Duck resident, I am wary of reducing crosswalks as it may encourage people to sling that baby carriage or bicycle out at random locations. It’s difficult enough to avoid “I’m on vacation and don’t have to look” pedestrians. It happens bc folks don’t want to walk ten yards to the next crosswalk. It’s easy to accuse Duck of being unwilling to “fix” it by widening the road, but what happens to our local businesses along that road? And it simply shifts the issue up the road, making it someone else’s problem.
    I don’t have any answers, just everyday practical concerns.
    Perhaps staggered check- ins and outs? One Colorado community in which I lived did this, with rental arrivals and departures spread across three days.
    Hopefully we can work together to find a solution which doesn’t pit town against town.

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