Southern Shores Council adopts summer traffic rules

By on May 6, 2022

(Southern Shores)

At its May 3 meeting, the Southern Shores Town Council reached a consensus on traffic mitigation measures to address summer cut-through traffic on the residential streets.

Over the years, the town has explored a number of strategies to discourage tourists — who attempt to find a quicker route to destinations north — from using the town’s neighborhoods to do so. One of those strategies – a “no-left turn” from U.S. 158 onto South Dogwood Trail on summer weekends – will no longer be implemented, according to town officials, because of safety concerns as well as the lack of data proving its effectiveness in keeping motorists on U.S. 158 and N.C. 12.

During a public information session on April 26, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn laid out some staff recommendations as well as potential options for the council to consider during the upcoming season. And on May 3, the council gave the green light to some of them, but also decided to avoid completely blocking some streets due to concerns over public safety response time.

The primary strategy being implemented this summer is to place barriers blocking one lane of traffic with “local traffic only” signs at several key intersections. Those intersections include Hillcrest and Sea Oats; Hickory and Wax Myrtle; Hickory and Sea Oats; Hickory and Hillcrest; E. Dogwood and Wax Myrtle; E. Dogwood and Sea Oats; E. Dogwood and Hillcrest; and Juniper Trail just past the first entrance to Food Lion.

Two other strategies may or may not be implemented, depending on whether there is support among residents on those affected streets, said Town Manager Ogburn. The first of the two possibilities would be to close Hickory Trail at East Dogwood Trail, with the road open and accessible from the intersection of Hickory Trail and Hillcrest Trail.

The second potential strategy would be to close Ocean Boulevard at the southern end that intersects with NC 12/Duck Road, leaving the road open and accessible from points north. Ogburn did note that at a minimum, there will be one lane blocked at the southern end of Ocean Boulevard, which will be intended for local traffic only.

If those two strategies are implemented, the council determined they would be in effect on Saturdays only. The eight other “local traffic only” barricades would be in place from Friday night to Monday morning.

A final option that was initially considered but is not being pursued was to block the road on the west side of NC 12 at Sea Oats, 11th Avenue, Hillcrest and Hickory Trail.  The council backed away from this option due to the potential reduction in public safety response times during emergencies.

Along with these measures, council members indicated on May 3 that the town would focus on messaging this summer to encourage visitors to stay on US 158 and NC 12.

“We’re a community and not a cut-through town and somehow, I think we need to market that statement,” said Council Member Leo Holland. “Whether it works, I don’t know but it would be worth a try.”

Mayor Elizabeth Morey also said the town needs to get the message out that the lights are green longer going north to south on NC 12 in the summertime. “I do think we need to emphasize the messaging about the traffic lights on Duck Road,” Morey asserted. “I really think that people need to know that if they cut through, they are going to get stuck, and they don’t want to get stuck.”

SEE ALSO: Southern Shores hears ideas on easing summer traffic





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  • Bill

    The roads in Southern Shores are Not Public roads. The Residents pay for their maintenance. They paid for the new bridge on Dogwood Trail.

    Friday, May 6 @ 5:09 pm
  • John Phillips

    For signage, I suggest something catchy, like “Going north, stay the course – Rt. 12/Duck Rd.” Destination is the only thing on their mind.

    Friday, May 6 @ 5:46 pm
  • Michael N

    This is almost comical if it wasn’t so sad. Sitting at our place at wax myrtle we could watch all the cars driving right around the barricade. The answer is really simple… At peak check in time, block the turn lane to South dogwood, post a cop at East dogwood and hickory, and a cop at East dogwood and wax myrtle. That would stop every bit of it. If you wanted to include juniper, all you have to do is change the light cycle so that it turns very infrequently and when traffic backs up, Google Maps will stop routing people down that way.

    Friday, May 6 @ 6:11 pm
  • Tom

    “Ugly American” is a stereotype depicting American citizens as exhibiting loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior mainly abroad, but also at home.
    Welcome to the Outer Banks!

    Saturday, May 7 @ 6:06 am
  • Bob

    This is hilarious
    Place cops?
    Nothing illegal is going on for them to stop anyone………
    The only illegal thing is residents and police municipalities believing they have the right to close the road……….
    Not a gated community.
    Lawsuits are being drawn up

    Saturday, May 7 @ 6:50 am
  • Mr. Local Neighbor

    Bill, according to the Town of Southern Shores website, information explains that the state of North Carolina also funds those same roads with a yearly contribution. That money comes from
    STATE taxes which are paid by STATE citizens.
    Just like you and all Southern Shore residents drive on roads in
    all jurisdictions that are maintained by a collaboration of state
    and local entities, other North Carolinians and Americans or International visitors ARE NOT RESTRICTED from using Southern Shore roads and streets by any LEGAL STATUTE.

    I’ll make sure that l wave pleasantly to you EVERY SINGLE
    TIME l drive through your community. I am practically begging
    for a police officer to stop me and suggest that l am violating
    any LEGAL STATUTE by doing so. Have a nice summer.

    Saturday, May 7 @ 9:47 am
  • lippy

    The red lights on NC12 during the summer are timed to only let 3-4 cars onto the road from the feeder streets.
    NCDOT should turn all the lights on Duck Rd to flashing lights, not red or green and let those folks sit there. At some point, no additional vehicles will be able to enter and will have to stay on 158 until the intersection where they can turn onto NC12. Do that 1 or 2 consecutive weekends and see how that works out.
    Emergency vehicles would be instructed to enter those neighborhoods from NC12 .
    Or build the darn Mid-Currituck Bridge.

    Saturday, May 7 @ 9:59 am
  • John VanderMyde

    I like the messaging approach “Lights delayed – fastest route north via Rt. 12” “Local traffic blockades ahead” etc.

    I also liked the “no left turn” option. Sure seemed like it worked.

    Saturday, May 7 @ 10:40 am
  • james

    Is it illegal to “cut-through” a gas station to avoid a traffic signal? Is it illegal to “cut-through” an elementary school full of children playing? Is it illegal to “cut-through” the parking lot of a grocery store to avoid a checkpoint? Why are local people the ones so upset over what Southern Shores does with their streets and community? The “lawsuits are being drawn up” by local people here on the OBX not the tourists. Why is is so upsetting for someone living in Nags Head what Southern Shores does to mitigate traffic to avoid their children being run over or smog filling their living rooms? Is it a matter of neighbor against neighbor just for the sake of hating your neighbor that you have never spoken or met? Why is the OBX such a hateful place? Based on reading these posts people on the OBX seem about as friendly towards each others communities as a pack of crocodiles.

    Saturday, May 7 @ 11:30 am
  • Joseph J Sacchi

    The 3 cameras on Duck Rd in Southern Shores no longer appear on the NCDOT TIMS display. I used them to view Check in / Out traffic tourist traffic in season. I emailed TIMS, several weeks ago about this and they replied, the cameras on Duck Rd in Southern Shores were being worked on and should be available 5/1. Can you shed any light on this?

    Sunday, May 8 @ 7:55 am
  • KDH back seat reviewer

    James, It gets slow here in the winter and its just a spill over of emotions

    Sunday, May 8 @ 9:20 am
  • Mr poor me

    If the rich people in southern shores are tired of all the traffic maybe they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps and buy a fancier house where people aren’t driving

    Monday, May 9 @ 7:40 am
  • Scott

    This whole thing is comical to those who don’t live in Southern Shores. For those that do live there, it has to be absolute insanity. People in traffic actually have the gall to ask homeowners if they can use their bathrooms while they are stuck in traffic on Wax Myrtle Trail (as reported by several homeowners). Tom is absolutely right about the “ugly Americans”, as a stereotype isn’t a stereotype unless there was a grain of truth to it. The only 100% solution to this problem is to buy the roads, and gate the community. But I can assure you, nobody wants to pay for that.

    Monday, May 9 @ 8:33 am
  • Kitty Hawker

    I love that we can get cops posted at Dogwood to mitigate tourist traffic but not for a school crosswalk at KHES. So many KH Village kids are unable to bike and/or walk to their elementary school because of an unsafe intersection. I have seen so many vehicles not paying attention to those using the crosswalks, putting pedestrians and bikers in danger.

    Monday, May 9 @ 11:04 am
  • Lucas

    Mr. Local Neighbor,
    You’re right about the roads being subsidized by state taxes. The thing about state taxes is that gas tax contributes to road maintenance which would stand to reason that tourist are actually contributing to the road maintenance as well. The hospitality of people in select parts of Southern Shores is definitely lacking. There should be an understanding that they live in a tourist area. Without tourism, the outer banks would be nothing more than a sparsely populated fishing and seafood village. It is tourism that is the lifeblood of the outer banks. When you decide to live in a very popular tourist area you have to accept the bad with the good. I agree that the behavior of some tourist is disgusting however, that is not a true representation of all of the tourist. As Scott stated, if you want to keep the tourist out, buy the roads, stop accepting state funds to subsidize your community and put a gate on it. You cant have your cake AND eat it to.

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 8:32 am
  • casual_onlooker

    After living here for 12 years it amazes me that DOT doesn’t think to sync the traffic lights. You get a green at Walmart, but a red at Teeter. This slows traffic more than anything. This seems like a simple fix to alleviate some of the traffic. No, it’s not a fix-all, but maybe DOT should give it a try.

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 1:18 pm
  • Jeremy Todd

    You could always convince the tourists to vacation elsewhere. Maybe OBX will find another way to make money.

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 5:02 pm
  • David Smith

    IF and only if the roads are not publicly maintained and are in fact private (which I seriously doubt) put up gates.

    Saturday, May 14 @ 4:41 pm