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Some traffic relief coming for Soundside Road residents

The Soundside Access Working Group presented a list of 12 recommendations to the Nags Head Board of Commissioners earlier this month to improve the traffic and congestion issues at the soundside beach area at Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

The access, which is leased to the town from the state, was originally put in in the early 1990s by the town to provide soundside access to the community. In recent years, as the area has grown in popularity, the residents of Soundside Road have expressed concerns to the Town of Nags Head about the increased traffic along the road as community members and tourists visit the sandy beach area at the edge of Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The once “best kept secret” is now well-known and even advertised in tourist pamphlets as the best soundfront beach. Particularly on days when the ocean is rough, the area is overrun with people looking for a quieter water experience.

Last year, Soundside Road residents sent a petition to the Board of Commissioners requesting action to address the rising traffic, parking issues and general nuisance to the neighborhood. The Soundside Access Working Group was developed, comprised of neighbors, town government members and the Jockey’s Ridge State Park Superintendent. The group worked for several months on resolutions to the problems and finally presented to the commissioners a list of twelve recommendations, which the board approved.

The summarized recommendations are:

  1. A traffic study to determine traffic impacts with the Soundside Access.
  2. On-street parking restrictions within the right-of-way of W. Soundside Road, S. Thirteenth Street and Deering Street.
  3. Improvements to the road including the possibility of a three-way stop or a chicane to slow traffic speed.
  4. Commitment to Jockey’s Ridge State Park’s open hours, as follows: April 1 to September 30: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; October 1 to March 31: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  5. Request that Jockey’s Ridge maintain traffic counter and share monthly data with the town.
  6. Request that events at Jockey’s Ridge be limited to 50 people; events held after hours should not utilize W. Soundside Road for access; educational events must carpool.
  7. The town should seek out alternative sound access for the general public and for educational and recreation groups.
  8. Continued commitment to police and park ranger supervision of the area and beaches.
  9. No immediate increase in parking spaces; if increased parking is desired, “it should be done through a formal planning process and not in the method that it has occurred.”
  10. “Addition of accessible parking to the existing parking lot and removal of the accessible parking space along the drive aisle. The beach walkover closest to W. Soundside Road should be removed once the structure reaches the end of its useful life.”
  11. Continued coordination and meetings between the neighborhood, the town and Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
  12. A new agreement between the town and North Carolina State Parks that reflects the roles of each party in the operation and future maintenance of the access.

Deputy town manager Andy Garman said the neighborhood could expect to see some improvement quickly as the town is able to address some of the recommendations. Those requiring coordination with the state will need more time. “The long-term goal is to find another outlet for the demand,” he said.

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