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.
THE TOWN’S AUTHORITY
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.
THE TERMS OF THREE COUNCIL MEMBERS EXPIRE THIS YEAR
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
3 thoughts on “5/12/23: POLICE CONTROL + BARRICADES AT SELECTED STREETS = OUR PLAN TO PREVENT CUT-THRU TRAFFIC.”
Those council people don’t live on Wax Myrtle Trail and are blocked in. Can’t get out of my driveway to make Mass on Saturday evening. Cars block entire street until after 8:30 pm. Maybe those council members forget we live here all year, seems like they don’t care for us residents.
Perhaps Warning signs at the two major entrances to Southern Shores at 158 by the School and by the Food Lion warning of significant wait delays due to no access to Route 12 North during the hours of 11am to 5pm, Saturdays-Sundays. Add yellow flashing lights as soon as time allows.
Also, at the egress points at the various streets intersecting Route 12 add No Left Turn between 11am and 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Install them just before Memorial Day and remove them Labor Day. Announce their presence on the Warning signs. Have SS police available to enforce. Send the whole lot back to start over on Rt 12. Similar No Right Turns from the Oceanside from Ocean Boulevard. Plus a similar type Warning Sign at the Cell Tower. Obviously, emergency vehicles can do whatever is needed. Homesteaders can plan accordingly and don’t want to wait in line anyway
Participation by SS Police would be appropriate
Regardless, at 12&12, we’re paralyzed, but C’est le Vie, thus the Vespa.
Thanks, Ted. I’m advocating for barricades instead of “No [Left or Right] Turn” signs and asking only for deterrence on Saturday afternoons and evenings, which are the worst times for cut-thru traffic. I like your suggestion of flashing yellow lights. I don’t think you should be paralyzed on 12th Avenue–not as long as we have a police force that can move traffic through town. Thanks again.