Southern Shores homeowner Mark Dailey posted the above photograph on Next Door late yesterday afternoon. It depicts cut-thru traffic at the intersection of Sea Oats Trail and Hillcrest Drive, looking north.

As The Beacon reported 5/3/23, the Town Council unanimously voted earlier this month not to take any action on the street to prevent cut-thru traffic. Mayor Elizabeth Morey and her colleagues on the Council decided, based on anecdotal evidence, that the “No Thru Traffic” barricades employed last summer were not effective.

“Mayor Morey,” we wrote 5/3/23, “said she thought the ‘potential for conflict’ between and among drivers and residents over [the use of the barricades] ‘outweighs their efficacy,’ an opinion she based on her personal observations last summer and one that she has consistently expressed since June, when people acted out angrily over the closure of Hickory Trail at East Dogwood Trail.

“Town Councilmen Matt Neal and Mark Batenic agreed with the Mayor, saying that their informal observations last summer led them to believe that too many cut-thru drivers were ignoring the barricades. Town Councilwoman Paula Sherlock expressed her dislike for the ‘eyesore’ that the barricades created.”

The Beacon has been writing about the scourge of cut-thru traffic since we started this blog in April 2018. We have suggested many problem-solving tactics and reported upon those that were employed. We also have reported on many public meetings about how to address the cut-thru traffic, including those held by the citizens’ Exploratory Committee to Address Cut-Thru Traffic, which was sanctioned by the Town Council, and the traffic engineering consultant hired by the Town to evaluate traffic conditions.

(To read about the findings of the exploratory committee and the outside traffic consultant, J.M. Teague Engineering and Planning of Waynesville, N.C., see The Beacon, 3/29/21 and 2/18/21, respectively. The Town paid $7500 for Teague’s study and report.)

As those of you who have been in the trenches for a while know, action by the Town Council comes slowly. None of the suggestions made by the traffic engineer, which were chiefly physical barriers, was even considered for implementation by then-Mayor Tom Bennett, who served from 2013-21, and the Town Council.

Indeed, it took four years and a radical change in Town Council membership before the left-turn prohibition at U.S. Hwy. 158 and South Dogwood Trail, which emerged as a solution from a 2014 townwide traffic workshop–for which the Town hired a professional mediator–was tried on a trial basis, and then opponents mischaracterized the results, to discourage its continued use. (See The Beacon, 6/25, 6/29, and 7/6/18.)

Police Chief David Kole was one of the primary detractors of the turn prohibition. He did not want to commit resources to enforcing it.

For six years Mayor Bennett consistently voted against prohibiting the left turn at South Dogwood Trail or taking any other actions suggested by property owners to reduce traffic. He repeatedly said in public that he considered the summertime traffic “the burden of living here.”

Mr. Bennett cast the sole dissenting vote against holding three “manned” no-left-turn weekends during the summer of 2020, the first of the Covid-19 summers. “Manned” meant having the Southern Shores police monitor the intersection for violations.

Two weeks later, however, the Mayor abruptly reversed course. The unprecedented traffic jam-up of the first two weekends in June, during which the left turn was not prohibited, was “not a healthy situation,” he said. At the Mayor’s initiative, the Council added two “unmanned” no-left-turn weekends in June.

Is that what it is going to take for Mayor Morey and the current Town Council to take further action this summer, including restoring some barricades? An “unhealthy situation”?

The Town of Kitty Hawk, which has jurisdiction over the left-turn lane at the U.S. 158-South Dogwood Trail intersection, refused to cooperate last summer with a left-turn prohibition on weekends, citing “safety concerns,” according to then-Town Manager Andy Stewart. (See The Beacon, 5/13/22.)

Would Kitty Hawk abruptly change course and support its neighbor if the situation became “unhealthy”?

If so, would the Southern Shores police, with assistance from the Kitty Hawk police, commit the necessary resources to enforcement of the ban to make it effective? “Unmanned,” as experience teaches, doesn’t cut it.

The arriving northbound cut-thru traffic yesterday–judging from our observations–was steady on South Dogwood Trail, not backed up, as it can be during peak season. It is only going to get worse when schools close for the summer.

It has been nearly a year since Mayor Morey held a Mayor’s Chat. We think one is well overdue.

Although Next Door has become the go-to forum for residents’ traffic complaints, and we are publishing less frequently, we still welcome your comments here.

(We apologize for the technical difficulties earlier, which resulted in subscribers receiving notice of this blog post twice.)

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/28/23


When Town Manager Cliff Ogburn asked the Town Council at its May 2 meeting what measures it would like to take this summer to prevent the scourge of cut-thru traffic on residential streets, the four members present were quick to disparage the use of “Local Traffic Only” barricades, as were used last summer, but not to offer any new ideas at the street level.

(Town Councilman Leo Holland was absent. See The Beacon, 5/3/23, for our meeting report.)

We would have liked to have heard the three elected Council members, and one appointed member, engage in a creative problem-solving session, with the objective being to design an enforcible plan to prevent cut-thru traffic and thereby promote public health, safety, and welfare.

The Town has tools available to it now to improve upon traffic conditions on summertime weekends, if it chooses to use them.

In the spirit of creative problem-solving, we offer the following plan that combines street closures, which are legal and can be effected with the barricades that the Council rejected for this summer—on the basis of only one configuration of their use—with police control of key Duck Road intersections:

Part One: Street Closures

We propose 1) Blocking access to Ocean Boulevard at the Triangle cell tower park (the Duck Road split); and

2) Blocking access to all streets off of N.C. Hwy. 12, between the Duck Road split and the East Dogwood Trail intersection, that lead to Wax Myrtle Trail, and blocking access to Eleventh Avenue, which connects Duck Road with Sea Oats Trail. Thus, no motorist driving on Duck Road could jump off of the thoroughfare by turning left on to Porpoise Run, Dolphin Run, or Eleventh Avenue.

Other optional closures include Trout Run (which is a right turn off of Duck Road) and Hickory Trail, where it intersects with Hwy. 12.

Part Two: Police Direction of Traffic

We next propose:

Assigning police officers to direct vehicle flow at the traffic-light-controlled intersections of Hillcrest Drive and Duck Road and Sea Oats Trail and Duck Road, and consider adding a third officer at the Hickory Trail-Duck Road intersection. These officers would move the northbound Hwy. 12 traffic along and allow, at most, two vehicles at a time to join the flow from Hillcrest Drive and Sea Oats Trail and, optionally, Hickory Trail.

Any motorist who elects to circumvent Hwy. 12 by cutting through on the South Dogwood Trail-to-East Dogwood Trail-to-Hickory Trail-to the dunes route should encounter a major delay and be discouraged from ever doing it again.

Police know how to clear congestion through a bottleneck. They know how to keep intersections unblocked and open. We should take advantage of their expertise at least every Saturday afternoon this summer, and perhaps also on Sunday afternoons during the peak season.

With the cooperation of the N.C. Dept. of Transportation, the traffic lights at the key Duck Road intersections could be set so that they are blinking yellow on the thoroughfare and red on the side streets. We do not believe N.C. DOT would object to either local police traffic control or blinking lights on Hwy. 12. The State is very familiar with the summer weekend traffic nightmare.   

Part Three: Duck’s Participation

We further propose:

Enlisting at least two officers from Duck’s well-staffed police department to control traffic and pedestrian flow at the most-popular Hwy. 12 crosswalks in its downtown. Their objective would be to keep the traffic moving so that a backup does not undermine the police efforts on Hwy. 12 in Southern Shores. Duck year-rounders, who are also beleaguered by the northbound traffic on summer weekends, would welcome their presence and efforts.


What Do You Think?

Southern Shores residents already plan their summer weekends to avoid the traffic congestion in town, especially on Hwy. 12. We do not believe our plan aggravates the inconvenience that residents who rely upon Hwy. 12 to come and go—for example, those who live on or off of Duck Road, such as in Seacrest Village—already experience. It it works, we believe it would improve their weekend road travel considerably.      

Please let us know what you think about our proposal for traffic control and share with us any proposals that you may have, keeping in mind the tools that the Town already has and can exercise.


Lest you wonder, we assure you that the Town of Southern Shores has the authority to close its streets to ALL traffic, when and where it chooses.

According to section 160A-296 of the N.C. General Statutes, a “city [or town] shall have general authority and control over all public streets, sidewalks, alleys, bridges, and other ways of public passage within its corporate limits,” except when authority and control “over certain streets and bridges” are vested in N.C. DOT.

The Town owns all of the streets within its corporate limits, except N.C. Hwy. 12 and U.S. Hwy 158, which are within the jurisdiction of the State, and a few private roads, such as Mallard Cove Loop and a section of Fairway Drive.

Section 160A-296 further states that a municipality’s “authority and control” over its public streets includes “the power to close any street or alley either permanently or temporarily,” and “the power to regulate the use of the public streets, sidewalks, alleys, and bridges.” Sec. 160A-296(a)(4)-(5).

Cities and towns have this regulatory authority because the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reserves to the states all “rights and powers” that are not delegated elsewhere in the Constitution to the United States (i.e., the federal government.)

Such powers are known as “police powers.” They enable municipalities to act to protect the public health, public morals, public safety, and the general welfare of their communities.

If the Town were to close its streets to non-resident motorists and others who do not have business in Southern Shores, and keep them open to temporary and permanent residents, property owners, and others who do have business in Southern Shores, it could face a legal challenge.

But legal challenges are not the same as court victories.

In any lawsuit based on a constitutional claim, the Town would rely upon its police powers to assert that it has a “rational basis” for taking action, i.e., it is protecting the public health, safety, and welfare and using reasonable means in doing so.   


We conclude our plan by pointing out that the terms of office of three current Town Council members expire in December: They are Mayor Pro Tem Matt Neal, Councilman Mark Batenic, and Councilman Holland. Three people on the Council constitute a majority.

The municipal election for these seats will be held Nov. 7. 

Candidates wishing to run for Southern Shores Town Council must submit their applications to the Dare County Board of Elections during a two-week filing period that opens at noon on Friday, July 7, and closes at noon on Friday, July 21.       

We encourage residents who are fair, open-minded, and creative people with problem-solving, leadership, and communication skills to consider running for town office. We need fresh perspectives and a diversity of opinion in our government representation. We need brainstormers who will fight to protect the public’s interests.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/12/23


The Southern Shores Town Council unanimously approved last night adopting the No-Thru Traffic Resolution, no. 2023.05.02, whose purpose, Mayor Elizabeth Morey said, is to “affect navigation applications,” such as WAZE, so that they will not direct motorists to the cut-thru residential streets, and rejected by consensus the placement of any barricades on the cut-thru streets, including on Ocean Boulevard at the Duck Road split or at any other intersections, where anecdotal evidence by residents might have suggested they were effective.

(See The Beacon, 4/28/23, for the text of the resolution and other background.)

The intent of the resolution, as the Mayor made clear, is not to legislate a cut-thru traffic ban, but to provide WAZE, which is owned by Google, with a municipal order that authorizes it to withhold from motorists alternate routes around congestion on U.S. Hwy. 158 and N.C. Hwy. 12.

The Mayor said she, Mayor Pro Tem Matt Neal, and Town Manager Cliff Ogburn had a Zoom conference with WAZE representatives to effect the resolution.

According to Police Chief David Kole, this new traffic-control tactic “can’t hurt,” but “we cannot enforce it.”

It was unclear from comments last night whether the Town would erect “No Thru Traffic” signs on any residential streets.      

In dispensing with the “Local Traffic Only” barricades, Mayor Morey said she thought the “potential for conflict” between and among drivers and residents over their use “outweighs their efficacy,” an opinion she based on her personal observations last summer and one that she has consistently expressed since June, when people acted out angrily over the closure of Hickory Trail at East Dogwood Trail. (See The Beacon’s coverage last June.)   

Town Councilmen Matt Neal and Mark Batenic agreed with the Mayor, saying that their informal observations last summer led them to believe that too many cut-thru drivers were ignoring the barricades. Town Councilwoman Paula Sherlock expressed her dislike for the “eyesore” that the barricades create.

It is a shame that the Town did not present any objective data about the barricades’ effectiveness or report on the number of hostile incidents (what, when, and where) that could be attributed to their deployment.  

The Council also showed by consensus an interest in exploring the implementation of speed bumps or humps on residential streets in response to a Wax Myrtle Trail property owner’s complaint about speeding by weekend cut-thru motorists on his street.

While the idea of installing temporary speed bumps/humps has come up repeatedly during the past eight years, elected officials have declined to act upon it.

“I’d be willing to try [speed bumps],” Mayor Morey said last night, “maybe.”  

The other three Town Council members present were equally tepid about their use. Town Councilman Leo Holland did not attend the meeting.

Last summer speeding complaints came from residents on South Dogwood Trail, Sea Oats Trail, and East Dogwood Trail (between Hickory Trail and South Dogwood Trail), in addition to Wax Myrtle Trail. (See The Beacon, 6/23/22, 7/14/22.) Such complaints are long-standing.

As we mentioned in our 4/28/23 post, we were not able to attend last night’s meeting or to live-stream it. We have watched most of the meeting videotape today, but, unfortunately, are not in a position to do more than submit this short report on the Council’s and the public’s discussion of seasonal traffic mitigation efforts.

We are disappointed that the Council adopted an all-or-nothing approach to the use of barricades, rather than examining where their placement might serve as a deterrent to cut-thru traffic (Ocean Boulevard**), and also did not consider any other means that might be employed this summer, such as preventing left turns off of residential streets on to Duck Road during certain hours of the weekend.

Andrew McConaughy, who lives on Wax Myrtle Trail, said in public comments that he thought the barricades “were working well.”

The Mayor heard similar comments from residents at her July 13, 2022 chat, which was held after the Town temporarily removed the barricades. (See The Beacon, 7/14/22.) Robert Green Sr. of Hillcrest Drive told her then: “The barricades were working.”

Even a closure of the Dick White Bridge, which is located on East Dogwood Trail between Hickory Trail and South Dogwood Trail, during certain hours on summer Saturdays merits some discussion. Mr. Ogburn mentioned the bridge closure as an idea that the Town has not tried, but no Council member picked up on it.

If ideas are going to be recycled, the bridge closure is certainly one that should be reconsidered.    

The No-Thru-Traffic Resolution was originally prepared in 2014-15, according to Mr. Ogburn, who said he basically did a “cut and paste” job in drafting it. It is a shame it took the Town Council eight years to get back around to it.

We were hoping that the resolution showed more commitment by the Town to protect the community from cut-thru traffic. It is not news to us that the navigation-app companies will respect town ordinances and resolutions regarding use of Town roads. Tommy Karole, the chairperson of the citizens exploratory committee on cut-thru traffic, often referred to this deference and the need for the Town Council to enact a resolution like the one that was adopted.

While we support the resolution, we also call upon the Town Council to do more to prevent the cut-thru traffic this summer.

IN OTHER NEWS . . . Mr. Ogburn presented a recommended budget for fiscal year 2023-24 of $9,731,450, which is 10 percent higher than the FY 2022-23 budget that was approved last June.

Although he suggested last year that a tax-rate increase might be necessary this year, Mr. Ogburn said last night that “A tax increase is not recommended at this time.”

The public hearing on the FY 2023-24 recommended budget will be held during the Town Council’s June 6 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

You may access the recommended budget here: https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/town_council/page/3043/fy_23-24_budget._2_year_packet_1.pdf.