Southern Shores asks Waze for help with cut-through traffic problems

Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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Southern Shores passed a resolution at the May 2 council meeting implementing “no thru traffic” for all local streets from Memorial Day to Labor Day to send to the popular GPS mapping company Waze, in an attempt to mitigate the cut through traffic heading north to Duck and Corolla.

The town has tried numerous attempts to control traffic on its residential streets, from barricades to “no left turn” signs to closing off streets, but staff has determined that when they lighten traffic in one area, they increase it in another area.

The council decided not to close or barricade any streets this year, but rather pass a resolution to send to GPS-mapping app companies. The resolution has similar language to one passed about 10 years ago, but the difference, Mayor Elizabeth Morey said, is that she and the town manager and Mayor Pro Tem Matt Neal met with two Waze employees over Zoom for help.

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“It’s kind of like talking to The Wizard of Oz  –they’re the guys behind the curtain … that essentially set the metric to set up what people get off of their phone and they were amenable to helping us,” Morey said.

“They understand. I think they both have visited here. I think one of them visits here frequently so they feel our pain, which was really comforting to know, and they have assured us that if we adopt this resolution … [drivers] are not going to see where it’s faster to go through our town streets according to the traffic navigation app,” she added.

With the resolution passed, Waze will not reroute drivers looking for a short cut through local streets, which, according to Morey, isn’t faster anyway.

Southern Shores is also going to replace signage throughout town encouraging drivers to stay on the main roads. The council discussed added temporary speed bumps on busy streets like Wax Myrtle Trail.

Several residents spoke up during public comment to share suggestions to handle the traffic problems, like surveying residents for opinions or adding sidewalks and thereby narrowing the roads to slow traffic down.