Southern Shores again adjusting weekend traffic control measures

Traffic stacked up on Hillcrest Road, waiting to turn at N.C. 12 on July 10, 2021. [photo courtesy Fay Mullin]

The Town of Southern Shores has announced more adjustments to their efforts to reduce the amount of traffic cutting through the town’s narrow streets during summer weekends.

In a statement issued Thursday, town officials said they will not block several intersections along East Dogwood Trail as was done last weekend, and the weekend left turn ban from U.S. 158 onto South Dogwood Trail has been extended through mid-August.

“Thank you all for your patience while we continue to explore options to mitigate traffic while also trying to limit the impacts on year-round residents and on those that need to come through Southern Shores for work purposes,” the town stated.

Yellow chains were strung across the median at three intersection on Dogwood, which kept everyone from being able to use cross-streets to avoid back-ups.

Location of the closures that were in place along East Dogwood Trail on July 10 and 11. [Map courtesy Town of Southern Shores]

“My elderly in-laws tried going to pick up donuts and got stuck in traffic for over two hours,” said Fay Mullin in an email to OBX Today. “The road closures have helped, but once one car turns down these closed roads (Hillcrest, Sea Oats) the rest follow.

“I am very concerned as our community of Southern Shores is no longer the quiet peaceful neighborhood we planned to retire to,” Mullin said.

“We also feel sorry for our neighbors who have become prisoners to their homes on weekend due to this ridiculous amount of traffic on weekends,” Mullin said.

“We are getting mixed feedback from the closure of the median along East Dogwood Trail. Clearly any steps we take to re-route the cut-through traffic results in varying impacts to different parts of town. The Town Council has been cautious and deliberate in trying to minimize these impacts. We are implementing these measures exactly as they have been discussed in council meetings and based on the results, we will continue them or move onto other options.”

Two additional weekends were added to the original planned eight weekends of no left turns from North Croatan Highway at South Dogwood Trail, which is now scheduled to conclude on August 15.

“Someone may want to let Southern Shores know that the attempt to shut off Dogwood was a joke,” said long-time visitor Ed Eisenhauer in another email to OBX Today. “(It took) 90 minutes from the bridge to Duck. Cars lined up as far as you could see on Dogwood making left hand turns.”

Eisenhauer echoed posts on social media or direct comments to OBX Today from locals and visitors that have called the South Dogwood left turn ban “a joke”.

Many have noted vehicles were turning into the 7-11 on the opposite side of U.S. 158 which is in Kitty Hawk, getting on The Woods Road and crossing at the light to reach Dogwood.

Some have called for a police officer to prevent vehicles from turning onto South Dogwood, rather than an empty vehicle with its lights on.

Local traffic only barricades will remain in place in eight locations: East Dogwood for traffic going north on Hickory Trail; Hillcrest Drive, Sea Oats Trail and Wax Myrtle Trail; on Hickory for traffic going north on Hillcrest; Sea Oats and Wax Myrtle; and on Hillcrest for traffic going north on Sea Oats.

“Our traffic count data shows there were 93 more vehicles that passed through town headed north this past Saturday, July 10 than there were on Saturday, June 26,” according to Southern Shores officials.

“This minor increase between these two weekends allows us to compare similar weekends to one another. Comparing the data to measure the impact of the median closure shows a mixed response similar to the mix of comments,” the town stated.

The town released traffic counts at various locations during the median closure along East Dogwood Trail:

  • 55 Hickory Trail – 2,036 or 149% more vehicles
  • 274 Wax Myrtle Trail – 584 or 143% more vehicles
  • 286 Sea Oats Trail – 285 or 35% fewer vehicles
  • 274 Hillcrest Drive – 430 or 30% fewer vehicles
  • 332 Sea Oats Trail – 339 or 14% fewer vehicles

“We recognize moving traffic from one area means it either creates increased impacts or new impacts in other areas of town. This might be acceptable if we find the right balance,” Southern Shores officials added.

Town leaders acknowledged that the data indicates negative impacts for residents of Wax Myrtle and Hickory trails “disproportionate to the benefits” for residents of Sea Oats Trail and Hillcrest Drive.

“While it may be worth exploring this option further and implementing it in some manner in the future, there is currently no plan to continue the median closures along East Dogwood Trail or closing off Hickory Trail at either East Dogwood Trail or Hickory Drive at this time.”

There have also been increasing concerns expressed about traffic diverting to Juniper Trail and through Chicahauk and to neighborhoods east of N.C. 12.

“We recognize the need to monitor those impacts. Trinitie Trail saw 248, or 25 percent, more vehicles comparing the same two weekends as described above. This past week we collected data at the 100 block of Ocean Boulevard with 1,939 vehicles counted Saturday and 992 counted Sunday.”

The town reiterated its goal of changing traffic patters to keep those traveling to Duck and Corolla on N.C. 12.

“There are on average over 11,000 vehicles that are driving through our town every Saturday and Sunday. We welcome all our visitors to the Outer Banks, but also want to limit the negative impacts on our residential streets.”

“Coming here for 25 years, and it gets more brutal every year trying to get north,” Eisenhaur said. “And I know I have to leave earlier every year so I’ll take some blame, but it is a joke.”

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