Reaction mixed to the weekend left turn ban at Dogwood Trail

By on June 25, 2018

Traffic rolls through on Saturday. (Kip Tabb)

Reaction has been mixed to last weekend’s test of no left turns from westbound U.S. 158 onto Dogwood Trail at Kitty Hawk Elementary School.

The Town of Southern Shores tested the effectiveness of not allowing traffic coming from the Wright Memorial Bridge to turn onto South Dogwood Trail on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Plans were to conduct the experiment this past weekend only, and there were no other prohibitions at the intersection, so traffic coming from The Woods Road and westbound U.S. 158 was still able to access South Dogwood Trail as normal.

“As was fully expected with the turn lane blocked and enforced, a significant amount of vehicle traffic was diverted away from South Dogwood Trail during the exercise,” said Southern Shores Town Manager Peter Rascoe.

Some residents commenting on The Outer Banks Voice Facebook page, and elsewhere on social media, said they noticed a difference on Saturday, with fewer vehicles on Dogwood.

One resident commented on the Town of Southern Shores Facebook page that, “even a 50 to 80 percent reduction in cut through traffic would be a big plus.”

But others noted that with lower volume, more vehicles were speeding on the narrow neighborhood street popular with those trying to get north of Kitty Hawk while traffic is stalled on U.S. 158 and N.C. 12, especially those who use traffic-mapping apps such as Waze.

And those who live on other Southern Shores roadways that connect U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 said there was a lot more traffic than a typical Saturday.

Conditions Saturday at noon. (NCDOT)

Kitty Hawk Police Chief Joel Johnson reported there were two separate motor vehicle accidents at or near the intersection over the weekend. One person reported a minor injury, and was treated at the scene.

North Croatan Highway is in Kitty Hawk, and the town line with Southern Shores is just off the westbound shoulder.

Barrels were placed in the center turn lane to keep out traffic, with large signs and a variable message board also alerting motorists of the ban.

“The supervisor on duty reported to me that the intersection was confusing to numerous motorists, and several accidents almost occurred due to the operators confusion,” Johnson said.

“We have no reports that the over-marked and adequately-signed intersection was confusing,” Rascoe said in response to those claims. “We only heard from vehicle operators that it certainly was not in sync with their GPS apps.”

As anticipated, there were some drivers that found a way to get around the ban. Some turned right on The Woods Road, then turned around at driveways a short distance away and went back to U.S. 158 to cross.

Others traveled farther down North Croatan Highway and made a U-turn and then turned right on Dogwood.

Rascoe emphasized that the main point of the exercise was to divert the eastbound U.S. 158 traffic as much as possible, while acknowledging some traffic would still turn around and enter South Dogwood legally from other directions.

He also reiterated that there were never any plans to close Dogwood Trail to traffic during the experiment.

“Data collected on vehicle counts around Southern Shores on Saturday and Sunday during the exercise is still being complied for evaluation, in the hopes we can determine where the vehicle traffic that was diverted from South Dogwood Trail actually went during the exercise times,” Rascoe said.

Rascoe said Southern Shores Police Chief David Kole is working on that report and would make it available to the public when it is completed.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation and Town of Kitty Hawk concurred with the experiment when it was approved by the Southern Shores Town Council on May 1.

A report by Southern Shores staff last August detailed a number of options for consideration, including a seasonal no left turn at South Dogwood Trail or blocking left turns at 12 intersections along U.S. 158 and N.C. 12.

Another option, which was the recommendation of a citizens committee formed in 2015, was to block roads and/or bridges all along Dogwood Trail.

A fourth selection from the staff was to create a “gated community” and access restrictions from U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 onto town streets.


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Comments

  • Mare

    All neighborhoods in Southern Shores should be blocked from left turns on weekends. Neighborhoods should be kept safe! Let the tourists wait on the road…they’re on vacation!

    Tuesday, Jun 26 @ 7:51 pm
  • Darkseas

    @Scales of Balance

    SSPD has a chief, a lieutenant, two sergeants, and eight officers. One of the officers is the school resource officer, so this officer is only available when the ES lets out in late spring and until it goes back in session in late summer.

    So 7-8 patrol officers. I suppose SS could set up speed cameras, but these would catch way more residents than guests, so unlikely they’d be kept in place very long.

    Tuesday, Jun 26 @ 8:03 pm
  • It was Glorious

    It was like a dream, slowly coasting along to work. No stress. Just cruising below speed limit up to ….Yes all the way to the end of sea oats no line of cars until I popped effortlessly onto 12.

    I was early to work and I tell you it was real and it was wonderful. I’ll dream of this Saturday as I sit for hour and half to 2 hours instead the rest of the summer. It was like the “good old days”

    Tuesday, Jun 26 @ 10:47 pm
  • The truth

    3/4 or more of the Southern Shores “locals” are not from here. You moved here and decided to buy a home in a quiet neighborhood that had side roads to connect you to the north. Then you get mad because other people figured out the same short cut. Now you want the cops to stand in the street and check IDs to see if they are local or not. While they are manning your barricade you fuss because they aren’t writing speeding tickets. You bought a home in a tourist destination. You have to put up with them for 10 to 12 weeks. Get over it. Quit whining! The traffic up there has always sucked. You made the decision to buy a home there now you want the world to cater to you. People are gonna figure out a way around the next hurdle you put in front of them as well. Why on earth is it ok for you to use a state maintained road and not the next person. You did not put in the forethought before you made your purchase now let’s blame everyone and everything instead of looking in the mirror. Grow up. Quit the entitled BS. While we are at it let’s build a locals only lane across the currituck bridge. Make a locals only restaurant that serves all of our favorite places food. How about a locals only grocery store. A no tourist beach. Get real. You live in a tourism based county. Here’s a news flash for ya. It’s gonna continue.

    Tuesday, Jun 26 @ 11:02 pm
  • dan

    It’s obvious that tourists are posting in these comments and their feelings are hurt. See “The Truth” above.

    The traffic on Sea Oats was much better last weekend. The experiment worked well. When our residential streets are used as a highway it severely limits the ability of Fire/EMS to respond to emergencies. Someone is going to die because emergency services couldn’t get to there home for 15 min. Not to mention the danger to neighborhood kids. Its also disgusting to see people urinating in our yards, littering, blasting music no one wants to hear and throwing lit cigarette butts everywhere. You want to talk about entitled? The tourists disrespecting locals on our neighborhood streets are the ones who are entitled. They knock on our doors demanding to use our bathrooms.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 8:02 am
  • Focused Local

    I will echo The truth’s comments regarding the angst felt by the Southern Shores locals regarding traffic through their community; get over yourselves. Your choice to purchase a home there was ….. your choice.
    The consequences of living in a resort town are …..the consequences.
    If the residents of your town want to severely monitor the actions on STATE roads, then buy the roads back from the state, make yourselves a gated community, and fork over the thousands of dollars per household to do so. Until then, tourists will continue to do what tourists do, which, by the way, includes fueling the local economies which would barely function without the hundreds of millions of dollars which they spend in our
    resort towns.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 9:36 am
  • ss2

    Hey @The Truth,

    You got it all wrong. Yes, Southern Shores homeowners knew they were moving into a summer destination. No one knew that Currituck County was going to quietly approve thousands and thousands and now thousands more huge rental houses without giving a damn about how that affected Dare County roads. You know they are adding hundreds per year, right? The last approval I saw was for 2,000 more lots. At 5-15 cars per week each.

    Fighting back is the only thing that has kept Southern Shores from turning into a total circus. They have to fight back, every step of the way, or before long those home values dive, Wings moves in, so does Saga, and the streets are filled with drunk idiots.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 9:47 am
  • Richard

    Can someone tell me how much time the shortcut S. Dogwood until you make the left on 12 N. saves? Is it really that much of a shortcut?

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 11:20 am
  • Bob

    The real solution and missing piece is for the town to pass an ordinance that makes through traffic in Southern Shores illegal at any time with a substantial fine imposed if you are caught. This information would then be communicated to the rental companies to make the visitors aware of the law. One would hope that most people don’t want to break the law and would not cut through. I suppose that doing this alone would cut the cut through traffic in half.

    Shut the turn lane down and stop traffic somewhere on Dogwood trail for a license check on a few Saturdays asking drivers where they are going and issue warnings and the majority of the problem would be solved.

    This would also cut down on the traffic leaving the northern beaches from cutting through.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 12:22 pm
  • Local Worker Bee

    I agree with Getting Local. Until you regulate the crosswalks in Duck, it doesn’t matter what roadblocks you set up. When Duck tourist just walk into the crosswalk at any time, often waving to the other 15 people in their family to catch up while they are standing in the middle of the road stopping traffic, and stop traffic that is already crawling along at turtle speed, the traffic will continue to back up. It seems DUCK should have some part in the solution to the traffic problem they create.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 12:51 pm
  • Debbie

    Just so you know, SS roads are maintained by SS residents, not by the state. We receive virtually no money from the state to maintain our residential streets. Our money comes from our property taxes and our portion of the taxes on the rental properties. The hwy that cuts through SS is paid for by the state.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 1:45 pm
  • Lucy

    The mid Currituck bridge would help all of this sillyness…….

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 5:31 pm
  • Windy Bill

    I, and obviously others, have enjoyed throwing rocks into this but if we will all stop that, we can focus on real ways to alleviate the problem. It needs to be done fairly quickly, and at a cost the government (and us, those pesky taxpayers) will accept. Do we have what it takes to accomplish this? I think so. Let’s do it.

    Wednesday, Jun 27 @ 6:09 pm
  • SS

    Why not try maintaining the crosswalks in Duck. What difference would it make if you put law enforcement there for the people walking instead of out on the highway for the cars?!?! The traffic snarl is unpleasant for everyone and that includes; locals, visitors and the workers that need access to that area and thru that bottle neck.

    Thursday, Jun 28 @ 6:43 am
  • neal

    Let’s put all of this into perspective : the bad traffic days are extremely few in number.

    There are 8 bad traffic days for each month of the tourist season.
    The tourist season lasts generally June, July and August. So there are only 24 bad traffic days a year.

    And, most locals know that there are windows of openings even on the bad traffic days.

    In return for 24 days of heavy traffic we locals get lots of great restaurants, good schools, great food shopping choices, doctors, dentists, a hospital, clothing shopping, auto repair and a myriad of other perks.

    So, residents of Southern Shores, aka “Nannytown”, need to just realize how small a price they’re paying for a high quality of life the next time they call in for pizza delivery.

    Thursday, Jun 28 @ 8:14 am
  • Nick

    I bet, if locals just complain enough on Internet message boards, tourists will get the message and stop coming. Then, everything will be perfect!

    Thursday, Jun 28 @ 11:31 am
  • SS Resident

    For all of you that say we knew what we were getting into, you’re wrong. Some bought houses here 20-30 years ago, way before it was close to this bad. To those who think we should suck it up, give me your address, and we will setup 24 days to drive recklessly down your neighborhood street.

    Thursday, Jun 28 @ 11:56 am
  • Getting local

    Hey! I counted them.
    DUCK HAS 9 CROSSWALKS IN .7 OF A MILE.
    Wow that will mess up traffic. That’s a no-brainer. The fix is obvious.
    Thank You town of Duck, your the root cause!

    Saturday, Jun 30 @ 7:58 am
  • HelpUsAll

    Debbie, sorry but we do receive Powell Bill funds every year towards our roads. The crosswalks in Duck are a nightmare, I live in SS and work in Duck, I can’t tell you how many times this weekend how many cars did not stop for people in the crosswalks and how many kept going(in the other lane) when people were actually IN the crosswalk. Yes, we live in a tourist locale, however, those of us who have been here decades and native families should not have to find bad behavior, dangerous driving acceptable. We were just five 20+ years ago. For those who don’t live here and comment, please give me you address where you’re from and we’ll cut through in front of your hone every weekend, speed, throw trash. Millions of “revenue” rec’d by Dare County go to OB Tourism to yes, get more people here. We look like Myrtle Beach now

    Monday, Jul 2 @ 7:39 am
  • Windy Bill

    Two easy options for Duck weekends:
    Crossing guards for crosswalks that let traffic flow for (?) minutes, then pedestrians. And they try to let a sequenced flow happen.
    Pedesdtrian crosswalk lights that operate as above.
    Crossing guards can happen within a few weeks!

    Monday, Jul 2 @ 1:31 pm