Dare Tourism Board hears about traffic concerns

Published 9:42 am Tuesday, May 10, 2022

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Southern Shores town manager Cliff Ogburn teamed up with Mayor Elizabeth Morey April 28 to provide members of the Dare County Tourism Board with a brief report on a software program used in June, July, August of 2019, 2020 and 2021 to analyze traffic data.

Ogburn explained that Southern Shores continues to suffer from a high percentage of traffic cutting through neighborhoods on weekends to get to destinations further north.

Morey pointed out that in addition to roadways being clogged with standstill traffic, there were other problems associated with the high volume.

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“Where do they go?” she asked. “They don’t always stay in their cars. They get out of their cars and into people’s yards where they knock on doors to use the bathroom. Many residents are unable to get out of their own driveways. It is a problem unique to Southern Shores.”

Morey went on to say that when talking about traffic you can’t get a single answer about what to do about the traffic.

“Getting data allows us to make intelligent decisions,” she added.

Ogburn said also that the town was able to get some pretty good data and to analyze the numbers to identify some issues in the town.

Unlike other towns, Southern Shores owns the roadways within town limits and the volume impacts road conditions and other town resources.

Ogburn said also that not everyone relies on cell phones to navigate and some visitors who have been coming for years know what roads to take.

“And some people drive through Southern Shores because it’s pretty,” added Morey. “We are trying to get the message out that the traffic will flow faster if people will remain on the main roads.”

Other traffic control options include blocking off select roads, looking at synchronizing traffic lights and working with property managers to help educate visitors on traffic flow control measures.

Also on hand was Kitty Hawk councilwoman Charlotte Walker with information about a Wright Brothers Tribute Museum project.

Walker explained that a group of investors is interested in establishing a Wright Brothers Tribute Museum and Observatory in Kitty Hawk. The structure is projected to be more than 30,000 square feet and house up to 12 historically accurate Wright Brothers aircraft. Other features include an observatory with 28-inch telescope, planetarium, outdoor performance area, a multi-purpose theater, library, café and gift shop.

A major backer for the project is Ken Hyde, known for his historically accurate original Wright flyer reconstruction, who intends for the project to be privately financed and built on the 10 acre state-owned land where the Glenn Eure Monument to a Century of Flight sits. A new Outer Banks Visitors Center would be included, replacing the current Aycock Brown Visitor Center.

Offering a few brief comments of introduction was Chuck Still, newly appointed executive director of the Roanoke Island Historical Association, who said Lost Colony rehearsals are underway for the May 17 opening and that this will be a year of new technology.

A native of Chattanooga and Davidson College graduate, he has a MFA from the North Carolina School of the Arts and 30 years of theatre management experience. Still said also that he began his professional theatre career as production manager of the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival in High Point.

Regular business for the board included approving an extension request from the Town of Kill Devil Hills for a Tourism Impact Grant due to supply chain delays that have extended the project.

Also approved was a resolution supporting a mid-Currituck County bridge and an Unappropriated Fund grant request for $200,000 to the Outer Banks Scenic Byways Committee to meet an application deadline for a grant to help pay for 4.4 miles of sidewalk from Frisco to Buxton and link up with existing trails.

While February occupancy numbers show only a slight improvement, there was a larger increase in meals collections.

Executive director Lee Nettles advised in his report that the marketing committee will be looking at a shift in promotions intended to bring visitors to the Outer Banks who care about the beauty and quality of life here.

Board members also reviewed a proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-23 and set a public hearing date of May 19 for the budget.