Carolina Beach Council Approves Lowering Dow Road Speed Limit

Dow Road near the Town of Carolina Beach Waste Water Treatment Plant and Mike Chappel Park where kids play soccer and various other sports. Dow Road is currently 55 mph near the park, and 45 mph at another location near a busy crossing for pedestrians walking and riding bicycles. Dow Road near the Town of Carolina Beach Waste Water Treatment Plant and Mike Chappel Park where kids play soccer and various other sports. Dow Road is currently 55 mph near the park, and 45 mph at another location near a busy crossing for pedestrians walking and riding bicycles.

Carolina Beach Council Approves Lowering Dow Road Speed Limit Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 09 September 2020 17:58

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Carolina Beach Town Council approved a resolution during their September 8th, meeting to lower the speed limit on portions of Dow Road and on Ocean Blvd.

The Council recently expressed a desire to lower the speed limit on Dow Road on the west side of Pleasure Island from 55mph to 45mph.

Last week the Town of Kure Beach said they did not agree.

On Tuesday September 1st, Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky explained, "Simply put, we are not in favor of extending 45 MPH speed limit on Dow all the way to Ocean. [Blvd.]  For a good portion of that space there is nothing on either side of the road.   Dow is our major access to Snow’s Cut without going through downtown Carolina Beach.  It is our position to keep it fluid as safely possible and keep it free of Golf Carts."

In 2019, the Carolina Beach Town Council asked permission to lower speed limits on portions of Lake Park Blvd as well as Dow Road. Both roads are regulated by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

NCDOT agreed to lower the limits on portions of Lake Park Blvd, but denied the Town's request to lower limits on portions of Dow Road which is an alternate route running north to south on the west side of Pleasure Island to Kure Beach. Last month the Council expressed a desire revisit the Dow Road speed limit request to NCDOT after Town Manager Bruce Oakley said a recent meeting with NCDOT indicated new leadership was open to the idea.

Councilman Lynn Barbee explained during the Council's August 25th, workshop, "Last month we had meetings with DOT and they told us they are willing to approve speed limits if we agree to enforce the speed limit on Dow and Ocean Blvd. What it is existing, it's 45 mph and changes 55mph on (Dow Road)."

He explained, "We proposed option one, is change Dow all the way to 45mph and Ocean to 25 mph. The next option, Dow all 45 mph and Ocean 35 mph. We just want to present that. Not approving it today we just want to show you these options."

Barbee said the Council could discuss it and possibly present a resolution at their September meeting.

Mayor Leanne Pierce said it was her understanding the neighboring Kure Beach Town Council will be discussing the proposal at their next meeting in September.

Mayor Pro Tem Jay Healy explained, "My only concern is if you take a look at the studies that have been done when it's 55, the average speed basically they are going 65 mph. At 45, they are basically going 55 mph. So one of two things that has to happen. The enforcement piece has to take place if we change this. What I would like to see, I'm fine with 45 all the way down to Ocean. I would like to see you drop to 40 mph. I know we can't do 35 because of the golf cart situation, but I think 40 mph at Tarboro or even the street before that walkway."

Healy explained, "A lot of these studies were done before that [cross walk] was still heavily trafficked."

Currently the speed limit on Dow Road in the area of the new crosswalk at Harper and Dow Road is 45 mph. Healy said he would like to see it reduced to 40 mph. He said south of that area, the 55mph zone should be reduced to 45 mph.

Healy explained, "It has to be slow enough for them to stop at that crosswalk. I mean, next meeting, I'll be glad to bring in video."

Healy proposed lowering the speed limit from 45 to 40 mph from Lake Park Blvd to Tarbroro on Dow Road, and then from 55 mph to 45 mph from Tarboro to Ocean Blvd (Town limits entering Kure Beach) where it would remain 55 mph.

Barbee explained, "To do this, if DOT approves this, one of the conditions is that we enforce it. I think in all of us reading through this material are beginning to question enforcement on Dow... it seems to be that we do not have sufficient speed enforcement on there."

Barbee explained, "I was stunned by some of these numbers. I mean, according to the study, on the section by the State Park, in a 24 hour period we had 102 vehicles going over [the speed limit]. That's what the study said. And your first thing is, that can't be true. But then when you look at the other speed monitors positions they support that and I don't believe two monitors got it wrong twice."

He explained, "We have got to slow people down in my opinion."

Mayor Leanne Pierce recommend placing mobile speed radar signs along Dow Road to alert people to their current speed and the posted speed limit.

Barbee said, "We see from these numbers that people don't follow the signs that are there. So the next piece of that is enforcement. Until you start writing some tickets and people start to slow down. The word will spread real fast, $250 ticket and your insurance going up suddenly changes opinions."

Town Manager Bruce Oakley recommended Council try to get DOT approval for a turn-lane on Dow Road at the entrance to the Carolina Beach State Park.

He explained, "That is getting, in my opinion, extremely tough."

The Council will discuss the issue again at their upcoming September 8th meeting.

If they decided to move forward with a resolution of intent, that would be forwarded to NCDOT for consideration.

The Carolina Beach Council will consider the following resolution:

Resolution Supporting the Reduction of the Speed Limit on Dow Road from Tarboro Avenue to Ocean Boulevard & on Ocean Boulevard from Dow Road to Spot Lane
WHEREAS, the Town of Carolina Beach hereby supports the reduction in the speed limit on Dow Road between Tarboro Avenue and Ocean Boulevard from 55 mph to 45 mph & on Ocean Boulevard between Dow Road and Spot Lane from 45mph to 35mph.
WHEREAS, the Town Council, believes that this reduction in speed limit is for the best interest and safety of the residents and travel in the Town of Carolina Beach.
WHEREAS, the Town of Carolina Beach will enforce the designated speed limit on Dow Road and Ocean Boulevard.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Town of Carolina Beach Town Council hereby support the reduction in the speed limit on Dow Road between Tarboro Avenue and Ocean Boulevard from 55 mph to 45 mph & on Ocean Boulevard between Dow Road and Spot Lane from 45mph to 35mph."

The Council did not schedule a public hearing on the resolution and simply voted to approve the resolution. Citizens could have signed up to speak during "Public Comment" during a portion of the meeting prior to consideration of the resolution.  

The "Public Comment" period allows the public an opportunity to address the Town Council. There is a three minute limit on public comments.

During the September 8th Carolina Beach Council meeting, Councilman Lynn Barbee explained, "Most of the people I've talked to, most citizens, especially anyone who frequents that area, the park and that area back there have been highly supportive. A few people don't like the change but in general I think it's needed and the majority of citizens support this move and so do I."

Mayor Pro Tem Jay Healy said he is concerned with vehicles in the area of the crosswalk at Harper Avenue and Dow Road. He explained, "It's a concern because this doesn't solve that issue unless we install a blinking speed limit sign. The survey that came out on that road said we were going 54mph on average. You can not go 54mph and stop at that crosswalk. I'm sorry. It's extremely dangerous and that is my number one concern on this road. I'm fine on the rest of it."

Healy said he was in favor of a 40mph limit in that area.

Councilman JoDan Garza said he was in favor of installing a digital sign a quarter mile in either direction from that intersection to alert motorists to slow down.

Mayor Leanne Pierce asked Town Manager Bruce Oakley to ask the North Carolina Department of Transportation for permission to install those digital speed signs as well as signs stating, "Crosswalk Ahead".

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth asked Oakley if the Town had communicated with the neighboring Town of Kure Beach on the proposed speed limit changes.

Oakley explained, "We notified their clerk who sent it to their Council. There was some kind of miscommunication. They thought we were going to 35mph. They sent a response opposing the 35mph.  I believe when we sent the 45mph, when they realized we were only going to 45mph..."
Pierce said, "I think I responded to that and explained it but I don't think we got a response back saying yes they were in favor."

Oakley said Kure Beach's concern was 35mph would allow golf carts to travel on Dow Road. He said, "We said no, we are only going to 45mph."

Carolina Beach Police Chief Chris Spivey said officers will educate people for the first couple of months after the speed limits are changed rather than simply issuing tickets from day one. Also, flags will be in place to alert people to the change in speed limits.

The Council voted unanimously to approve of the resolution.

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