On behalf of several towns in Carteret County, the Down East Rural Planning Organization (DERPO) and the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have been working over the past several months on a "NC 58 Corridor Study". The study's purpose is to identify strategies to improve traffic flow along NC 58 from the NC 24 intersection near Cape Carteret and Cedar Point, all through Emerald Isle and other towns along Bogue Banks, and out to the US 70 intersection in Morehead City. Staff from both agencies have been evaluating traffic counts, crash data, and existing traffic system infrastructure to develop recommendations for further consideration by the Carteret County Transportation Committee and the individual towns. Any potential improvements in Emerald Isle will be presented to the Town's Board of Commissioners for review and comment at a future date.
In an effort to maintain the Town's "family beach image" and "small-town atmosphere", the Town's 2004 Land Use Plan (which will be updated in 2016, with a new plan anticipated to be adopted by the Board of Commissioners in late 2016 or early 2017) includes a very clear policy statement that the Town opposes the future widening of the NC 58 bridge, and that the Town also opposes the future widening of NC 58 all through Emerald Isle. This policy was developed after significant public input during a lengthy community planning process in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Because of this formal policy, the current "NC 58 Corridor Study" has focused on other intersection improvements along NC 58 in an attempt to promote smoother, more consistent traffic flow along NC 58, particularly during peak traffic periods in the summer.
Emerald Isle currently has 4 signalized intersections along NC 58 --- at Coast Guard Road, at the entrance to Emerald Plantation shopping center, at Mangrove Drive (near CVS), and at Bogue Inlet Drive --- that are perceived to contribute to traffic delays during peak periods. The DERPO and NCDOT have identified the installation of single-lane traffic "roundabouts" (similar to the photo below from Ocean Isle Beach, NC) as a potential improvement that would reduce traffic backups during peak periods. The "roundabouts" would be installed at each of the 4 signalized intersections, and because there would no longer be any left-turn movements (all turns from a "roundabout" are right turns) the DERPO and NCDOT believe traffic would flow continuously, with traffic from side streets merging into the "roundabout". The potential "roundabouts" at the Coast Guard Road, Emerald Plantation, and Mangrove Drive intersections would likely have a diameter in the 125 - 150 ft. range, while the Bogue Inlet Drive intersection would be served by a "mini-roundabout" with a 70 - 80 ft. diameter. The roundabouts would be designed to insure adequate turning movements for tractor-trailers, recreational vehicles, school buses, and emergency vehicles.
The Board of Commissioners received a presentation on "roundabouts" at its December meeting, and will receive additional presentation(s) at public meetings in early 2016. For more information, please visit http://www.emeraldisle-nc.org/memo-12-08-2015-14 . The Town welcomes constructive input on this issue from our residents, property owners, and visitors, which can be submitted to Frank Rush, Town Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org . The Board of Commissioners is not expected to make a decision on this issue until spring 2016 at the earliest, and perhaps not until later in the year.