Nags Head approves proposals to ease traffic, parking woes at Soundside Access

By on April 9, 2021

Residents complain of the impact of summer traffic in the neighborhood. (Michelle Wagner/file photo)

During its April 7 meeting, the Nags Head Board of Commissioners unanimously endorsed a series of recommendations from a working group created last fall to explore solutions to the growing parking and traffic problems along W. Soundside Road and at Jockey’s Ridge State Park Soundside Access.

During peak summer months, the popular beach access at the end of W. Soundside Road draws as many as 23,000 vehicles a month down the otherwise quiet, residential street. Residents along the road brought their concerns to the board last year, stating that traffic, speeding and parking have all reached unacceptable and dangerous levels during the busy tourist season.

Included among the 12 recommendations made by the committee are increased parking restrictions, strict enforcement of violations and the exploration of an alternative soundside access for visitors within the municipality. The committee, appointed by the board, was made up of neighborhood residents, Jockey’s Ridge Superintendent Joy Greenwood, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Siers, Town Planning Director Michael Zehner and Police Chief Phi Webster.

“Ultimately, the committee thought that the three-way stop sign stop along W. Soundside Road at the entrance to the Soundside Access was a must, towing of anyone parked along the side of the road was a must, enforcing the speed limit was a must,” Siers told fellow commissioners. “My suggestion to the board, as a commissioner, is that we do everything we can as a town to help offset some of that strain on the neighborhood.”

Siers also suggested reaching out to the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau about the possibility of establishing an access to the sound at the Soundside Event Site.

Other recommendations from the working group include a traffic study to determine the impact on W. Soundside Road; prohibiting on-street parking within the right-of-way of W. Soundside Road, S. Thirteenth Street, and Deering Street; an audit of existing parking and traffic regulation signs along the affected streets to determine the need for additional no-parking areas and traffic regulations; and consideration of other traffic calming measures along the roadway to discourage speeding.

“The Town should commit to continued coordination between its police department and park rangers, performing routine visits to the Soundside Access when open,” the group’s report stated. “The Town should work with Jockey’s Ridge State Park on supervision of the beach and water during the season…”

The working group also stated that it was opposed to any increases in capacity at the access parking lot in its current location and configuration at the end of Soundside Road and it recommended no parking along the access drive aisle of the access, which typically is lined on both sides with vehicles during the summer season.

In addition, the group recommended that the Town should request that Jockey’s Ridge State Park also limit events held at the access to 50 or fewer participants and that those events not use W. Soundside Road for access. And it asked that group education activities with 15 or more participants utilize shared transportation and not allow participants to individually travel to the access.

The recommendations also call for standing committee to be established between representatives of the Town, Jockey’s Ridge State Park and neighborhood members to address concerns and issues. And they press for Nags Head and North Carolina State Parks to develop a new agreement to reflect the roles of each in the operation and maintenance of the access.

The group also wants to limit park hours to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April 1 to Sept. 30 and to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 1 to March 31.


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  • voidless1

    Glad the town had assistance w/ possible solutions.

    Friday, Apr 9 @ 11:15 pm
  • Disgusting

    There is no balance with any of these recommendations. You want to keep the people away, only to use the area for yourselves, but reap the rewards of all the money that they bring in. Shame on you!!! Careful what you wish for, you might get another suit that you cannot win. Just like trying to keep out property owners. How did that go for ya?

    Saturday, Apr 10 @ 9:49 am
  • Anastasia

    I thought the title of this article sounded like the committee had made recommendations to accommodate the many visitors who want to come to Jockey’s Ridge State Park Soundside Access. But instead, the recommendations are more policing (towing, tickets) and more no parking signs. And no recommendations for expanding parking and access solutions at the current site. This is classic NIMB (Not In My Backyard) mentality. Let’s just move all those people down the road to some other access or the Soundside Event Site.

    Saturday, Apr 10 @ 1:45 pm
  • Surf dog

    I thought they had discussed a shuttle service from the main parking lot to the sound side beach.

    Saturday, Apr 10 @ 3:29 pm
  • voidless1

    Follow Ducks lead, Sound side beach private, Nags Head owner access only.

    Saturday, Apr 10 @ 6:32 pm
  • Zack Bass

    There is only so much room out here on this Thin Strip Of Sand. The Outer Banks Economy is solely dependent on Vacationers. Businesses want this place filled to capacity and overflowing. We that live here have jobs because of all those people we love to hate. “Traffic and Parking Woes”. What do you expect?

    Sunday, Apr 11 @ 6:05 am
  • voiceless1

    Yeah voidless1, make the soundside beach and access that are part of the State Park Nags Head residents only… Communist ideas are the way of the times after all… It would be much easier if people just used common sense and went elsewhere instead of parking anywhere they see fit when they arrive and the legal parking is full.

    I don’t understand how that many people can fit on that small beach anyways. We come down in the off-season and the beach seems maxed out when there’s only 20-30 people out there and the designated parking isn’t even full.

    Sunday, Apr 11 @ 10:07 am
  • Kathleen Marshall

    Only allow obx plates to use this beach, parents who work hard here should have one spot to bring their children (on raw days off) that residents are not denied family beach access because visitors have over run us.

    Sunday, Apr 11 @ 10:48 am
  • Travis

    What Anastasia said. Rather than a balanced approach this was all about wielding the hammer to smash a problem. I’m surprised the NC Parks superintendent–being the only representative of a broader constituency on this committee–went along with these heavy handed recommendations. All that’s missing is an alligator filled moat around the access.

    Monday, Apr 12 @ 10:05 am
  • Joanna Cummings

    Ok but maybe you should ticket not tow… People go there cause they have small kids and its calm. You get a tourist that locks their purse and phone in their car so they can go swimming with their kids and come back to an empty space in the grass and no way to call for help stranded way down that road with small kids in the heat. I’d never come back to this island if you did that to me. Is that what you are going for?

    Monday, Apr 12 @ 4:49 pm
  • Grandyguy

    Joanna is right

    Friday, Apr 16 @ 4:48 am
  • Obxkdh

    I think the soundside event site would be a wonderful place/solution to overcrowding this particular beach.
    This site is under currently underutilized and if spuced up correctly could be a great place with ample parking for residents and tourists alike. (Of course would have to be “closed”during events).
    Probably a County vs. State issue would come into play as well as who would maintain that area, but Jockeys Ridge beach is the only public soundside beach that I am aware of, perhaps I am wrong.
    Plans or thoughts to build a convention center and hotel should be shelved until our county addresses the lack of housing. Creating NEW jobs seems silly when local businesses are having to pick a day or even two to close due to staffing issues. Never seen this before in 30 years working and residing here.

    Saturday, Apr 17 @ 8:10 am