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.


(Visited 5,620 times, 4 visits today)


  • WindyBill

    Tilting at windmills is fun too. Whatever you do, don’t widen NC12.

    Saturday, May 6 @ 4:03 pm
  • Bill

    Decades of “anything goes” uncontrolled growth and now they have meetings about how to control it and “alleviate traffic woes” on the Outer Banks. Well, Dare County. You created this Frankenstein’s Monster and turned it loose. Good luck in catching it.

    Saturday, May 6 @ 6:20 pm
  • Luminous

    NC 12 north of the bypass could be 12 lanes wide, but that wouldn’t relieve its summer backup as long as there is 100% right-of-way for pedestrians in one-block-apart crosswalks in downtown Duck.

    Saturday, May 6 @ 6:33 pm
  • Ed

    The same people who whine like babies about KDH and Nags Head destroying their towns with too much growth are the ones whining every time Southern Shores does something to curb growth or tourist impact. Why don’t you guys grow up and fight for your own town battles instead of moaning about everything all the time? Get off your keyboards, Southern Shores residents do.

    Saturday, May 6 @ 10:28 pm
  • Lucy Power

    Absolute truth regarding Duck and the multiple crosswalks. Take a few away and implement “walk now, don’t walk” signals that everyone sees in every city that they come here from.
    And, sorry Adylett, but your time has come.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 2:25 am
  • Anything but traffic lights

    The only place in the state where 250,000 come and go on two particular days of the week and you can step out into traffic as a pedestrian and shut down the entire flow of traffic on a major thoroughfare. And there are virtually no traffic lights in any of the meaningful locations. Surely NCDOT could install more traffic lights and arrange the traffic pattern in Duck and Southern shores for less than the estimated (and there will almost certainly be overages) $500m for the bridge. Make the lights long enough in the summer that it does not help you to get of NC 12 and NC 158.

    The deal with Waze is interesting but may not obligate Google to correct Google Maps’ algorithm, and it certainly doesn’t obligate any other app companies in the navigation context.

    Recent reports by this news agency show that there is about $100m shortfall in the budget for this project. An unfounded bridge to vacation land at $50 one way is not going to do anything to alleviate the hoards of contractors or other employees coming to and from work in Corolla from the mainland locations where these folks actually live. Or any of the day trippers coming from northeastern NC or VA.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 6:56 am
  • Anything but traffic lights

    Surely a few more traffic lights and updated light pattern not only costs less than the proposed $500m for the $50 one way toll road to vacation land.

    Does anyone in government actually expect the hordes of contractors and employees that keep Corolla alive to actually pay $50 one way on a commute from a variety of mainland locations?

    Where else in America can you cross the street and obstruct the traffic flow of more than 250,000 people coming and going?

    Sunday, May 7 @ 7:02 am
  • Greg

    The problem lies with the development of Corolla. I have seen it from its beginning in the late 70s Currituck County denied no development permits. Recession was the only thing that temporarily slowed the development there. To allow that amount of development with no proper access is negligent on the part of the State. No other beaches on the lower East Coast have such a convoluted access situation. SELC has made the situation worse. Why would they oppose a project that would greatly reduce fuel use and emissions? Currently the road trip from Coinjock to Corolla is 57 miles. With the bridge it would be 8. The environmental consequences of a bridge are far far less that what is going on now.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 7:46 am
  • Mm

    Get the fine people who are in charge of duck in the meeting since it’s the 12 crosswalks in duck that hold up traffic from the south and north end.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 8:24 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Mm, one thing that was discussed at the Southern Shores Council meeting was that Southern Shores officials have talked to Duck officials about changing pedestrian traffic patterns. The Southern Shores officials said there was no interest on the part of the Town of Duck.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 9:34 am
  • Eddie

    Force the Southern Environmental-type wackos to pay for their delays in construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge. “Build that Bridge! Build that Bridge!”

    Sunday, May 7 @ 8:26 am
  • Travis

    Nothing says the Southern Shores cops can’t set up a DUI checkpoint just off the bypass on changeover days. Big signs. Tow trucks on standby. Maybe a dog sniffing around cars. Might deter a few visitors from going that way and it would definitely slow the pace of traffic through that area.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 1:57 pm
  • Deborah Millis

    Put a police officer, or a rent a cop at the left hand turns. If they are Not a resident, renter with a pass, or visitor with pass for the area, make them turn around and go back into the regular traffic.

    Sunday, May 7 @ 3:07 pm
  • Local Guy

    As a local I travel this route almost every day….winter and summer. There Is no quick fix because no one wants to make the necessary changes by either making 12 wider or do away with way too many pedestrian crossings in Duck….and if Duck council has no interest in changing it why can’t the NCDOT step in. It is causing traffic delays. All those crossings is worse than 10 lights. Or is Duck exempt from everything….just like public beach access!!!!

    Monday, May 8 @ 8:02 am
  • Not local just live here

    Elevated temp crosswalks in Duck and pedestrian walk lights for those who cannot climb stairs. Allow the Duck businesses to sponsor ad space/crosswalk across the cross walks and with elevated views of the sound make it a photo op to take pics from. Remove them in off season. This way traffic can flow unimpeded through Duck and the shoppers can still get where they want. Push awareness to use the elevated cross walks. Adoption would happen and there would be behavior changes. It would cut the stoppage in duck by 3/4 I bet.

    Monday, May 8 @ 8:21 am
  • Think. man

    Hey @Not local just live here

    Do you really think dad with kids, 2 ppl on bikes, stroller family, big family, rental gear family, been-drinking family, old family, shopping bag family, that any of them are for a second ever going to climb stairs to cross a 2 lane street? Wake up.

    The pedestrians are a minor issue at best. Cars are in gridlock turning in and out of dozens of businesses. Most of the rental companies are right on the street and packed that day. Everyone is returning or picking up rental gear. You are just chasing your tails thinking pedestrian solutions will do anything.

    GREG nailed it. tens of thousands more cars have to go up there now and it is more with every week that passes and house that gets built. That’s the issue.

    Monday, May 8 @ 1:19 pm
  • disgruntled

    No left turns onto Duck rd. Sat. and Sunday. Only at Hillcrest and only with a pass/Southern Shores sticker, enforce it. Traffic gets redirected for any number of calamities or events when it will be at a standstill, not sure how this is any different. It’s one thing to sit in traffic on a highway, it’s something else in neighborhood.

    Monday, May 8 @ 6:48 pm
  • disgruntled

    One more thing. The northbound traffic coming out of S.S. is disrupting the flow of traffic on Rt. 12.
    Would it be considered courteous to allow them the space to make that N. bound turn?

    Monday, May 8 @ 7:11 pm
  • Al

    Do what the Dare County Sheriffs Office does during state of emergencies. (They turn vehicles around on East side of the bridge). Place 2 officers at Kitty Hawk Elementary School. If the driver don’t have a valid drivers license with a Dare County or Currituck County address, turn them around in the school parking lot. That will stop the drive thru. Raise my taxes, I’ll be glad to pay for their extra duties.

    Monday, May 8 @ 9:15 pm
  • Here's an idea

    Remember the “no mini hotels” signs we used to see placed all over the roadside in Southern Shores. Let’s come up with a witty slogan reminding vacationers that the reason they’re sitting in traffic for hours every Saturday and Sunday is because of all the crosswalks that the town of Duck refuses to address or compromise in any way. I bet a lot of them would develop a distaste for the town of duck and stop renting/shopping there. Might be a stretch but If Duck won’t budge or help then we should entice tourists to make them suffer financially.

    Tuesday, May 9 @ 12:16 am
  • Liz

    Shouldn’t the tourist bureau step up to the plate? What are they doing to help solve a problem they had huge a role in creating? Maybe they should spend some of their millions on that issue instead of continuing with the “Come on down!” Change the tourist bureau’s focus? Oh who am I kidding?

    Tuesday, May 9 @ 8:00 am