Southern Shores takes another stab at summer traffic

By on May 6, 2023

Council passes ‘No Thru Traffic’ Resolution at May meeting

By Maggie Miles and Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

(Town of Southern Shores/file photo)

With a sense of its limitations, and an acknowledgement that past efforts have created some problems, the Southern Shores Town Council on May 2 approved a “No Thru Traffic” Resolution aimed at mitigating the perennial problem of heavy summer congestion snarling town streets.

The resolution calls for “No Thru Traffic” at the intersections of all Town Streets and NC158 and NC12 from the Friday before Memorial Day through Labor Day.

While the council expressed its opposition to measures such as erecting barricades or similar barriers, Town Manager Cliff Ogburn reported that there is an agreement with the traffic navigation app Waze (which is owned by Google) to no longer direct traffic onto those streets for their users.

“Everyone is going to say people are going to do what they do, but at least now they’re not going to see where it’s faster to go through our town streets according to the traffic navigation app,” said Southern Shores Mayor Elizabeth Morey at the May 2 meeting. “Because that was what has been so frustrating is that I know it’s not faster. I know where the cars are lined up on Hillcrest and 11th and Sea Oats and East Dogwood, and they’ll sit for a very long time.”

Of course, that strategy will only impact users of the Waze app, but as Ogburn put it, “it should help.” Asked for his reaction to the effort, Southern Shores Police Chief David Kole responded with a similar verdict, noting that, “it can’t hurt.” Kole also explained that even though his department is currently short staffed, he will have officers positioned at “strategic locations” in the town to help with the traffic problems.

During the conversation at the meeting, there was a candid acknowledgement that summer traffic woes are a continuing and daunting problem.

“This has obviously been going on since the 80’s,” Ogburn said. “And I know these folks are frustrated and that they want us to do more than we’re doing. But it’s a big challenge. It’s a problem that we’ve pushed from one place to another. We’ve never solved it.”

At the meeting, Ogburn recounted a number of strategies that the town has employed in recent years as an attempt to ease traffic congestion. They have included, among other things, barring left turns from 158 onto South Dogwood; education and outreach efforts, including videos made by property managers for their guests; and lowering speed limits.

A strategy that both Ogburn and the council agreed was particularly problematic was the chains and barricades set up last summer in an attempt to block cars from getting through the neighborhoods.

“Folks were moving the barricade, and it also resulted in heated confrontations, and a lot of what we’re doing here is just pitting neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. And the confrontations in this day and age are kind of scary,” Ogburn added.

One part of the town’s traffic mitigation strategy is its strong support for the construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge from Aydlett on the Currituck Mainland to the Currituck Outer Banks—a project many in Duck and Southern Shores believe can help significantly with summer traffic congestion. The project has long been delayed by litigation filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center and last year, Southern Shores filed an Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief supporting the bridge project.

In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld an earlier U.S. District Court ruling against the suit and recently, the Appeals Court also rejected SELC’s request for a rehearing of the case.

During public comment at the meeting, several Southern Shores residents stressed that aside from traffic volume, one of the problems they face is vehicles simply going too fast on neighborhood streets, such as Wax Myrtle.

To that end, one thing on the agenda for the June council meeting is the possibility of adding temporary speed bumps on streets where speeding is especially problematic. Still, it is not certain whether that will be approved or when it would be implemented. Morey also stated the town was also considering sending out a questionnaire to citizens for more suggestions on how to mitigate traffic throughout Southern Shores.


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  • Steven

    What’s needed is a class action lawsuit against the Tourism Board of destruction

    Tuesday, May 9 @ 9:10 am
  • Andy Moynahan

    The solution to summer traffic is to build the bridge. Passing rules to regulate behavior in summer always has unintended consequences. Put the speed limit on NC12 back to 45MPH where it belongs in October through May and ask our friends across the bridge to do the same with the idiotic 45 MPH limit out to the water park that isn’t even open yet.

    Friday, May 12 @ 11:36 am
  • Yokel

    How about make all side streets right turn only onto NC 12. Make the tourists try to find a place to turn around.

    Monday, May 22 @ 5:47 pm
  • Thomas

    “This has obviously been going on since the 80’s,” Ogburn said. “And I know these folks are frustrated and that they want us to do more than we’re doing. But it’s a big challenge. It’s a problem that we’ve pushed from one place to another. We’ve never solved it.”

    Right! So for 40 years this problem has existed and there are no solutions except to deal with WAZE? If this is town leadership it is an abject failure. There have been plenty of good suggestions in the past. Put in a gate on South Dogwood operable by an automatic windshield sticker on the car of a Southern Shores resident. Do the same thing at Juniper Trail. Cut through traffic eliminated.

    Friday, May 26 @ 12:05 pm