Hwy 58 Corridor Study Considering “Roundabouts” for EI Intersections
ON BEHALF OF several towns in Carteret County, the Down East Rural Planning Organization (DERPO) and the NC Dept. 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 Highway 58 from the Highway 24 intersection near Cape Carteret and Cedar Point, all through Emerald Isle and other towns along Bogue Banks, and out to the Highway 70 intersection in Morehead City. Staff from both agencies has 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 Highway 58 bridge, and that the town also opposes the future widening of Highway 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 Highway 58 in an attempt to promote smoother, more consistent traffic flow, particularly during peak traffic periods in the summer.
Emerald Isle currently has four signalized intersections along the highway – 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” as a potential improvement that would reduce traffic backups during peak periods. The “roundabouts” would be installed at each of the four 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 foot range, while the Bogue Inlet Drive intersection would be served by a mini-roundabout with a 70-80 foot diameter. The roundabouts would be designed to ensure 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 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.
Village West Rezoning Approved
In an effort to promote quality redevelopment in the vicinity of Islander Drive, the town’s 2004 Land Use Plan and a subsequent 2006 small-area plan designated this area as the “Village West” planning area. Village West envisions a mixed-use district, with both residential and commercial uses in the same area, on the same parcel, and even in the same structure, and includes very flexible and lucrative zoning regulations.
In recent years, a few properties in the Village West area have been rezoned to the new Village West zoning district, but the remaining properties remained zoned as business (which does not allow any mixed uses or residential uses). The board of commissioners recently completed the full rezoning of nearly all properties in the Islander Drive, Reed Drive, Highway 58 and Crew Drive area to the Village West zoning district. The town is actively promoting quality redevelopment in this area and is eager to work with any and all property owners and potential developers to make the Village West vision a reality in the future.
New Flood Insurance Rate Maps Expected This Spring
The NC Floodplain Mapping Program, on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has been working in recent years to update the official flood insurance rate maps used in Emerald Isle. The new maps are nearly complete and will be released to the public in spring 2016.
Overall, the new maps are expected to be favorable for Emerald Isle as a whole and will hopefully reduce flood insurance premium costs and regulatory burden for many Emerald Isle property owners. There will, however, likely be some property owners that are negatively impacted by the new maps, and the town will be publicizing this information when the new maps are released in spring 2016. Please remain attentive to this issue to determine the specific impact on your property. For more questions about the new flood maps when they are released, please contact Josh Edmondson, town planner, at email@example.com.
Emerald Isle Woods Water Management System
Resolves Nuisance Flooding Concerns
The town operates a sophisticated system of fixed pump stations and buried pipeline in several neighborhoods along the Coast Guard Road corridor that discharges pumped storm water and ground water in Emerald Isle Woods Park, where it is treated by the natural environment. The town’s system is now connected to 8 different pump stations in the Deer Horn Dunes, Sea Dunes, Spinnakers Reach, Lands End and The Point neighborhoods, and these pump stations have eliminated or significantly reduced chronic nuisance flooding concerns in these areas.
The town continues to work on additional storm water solutions in other neighborhoods in Emerald Isle, with the Osprey Ridge neighborhood (directly adjacent to the town-owned Emerald Isle Woods Park) targeted for the next pump station in the future. It is important to note that the primary impediment to resolving the remaining storm water concerns is the lack of a legal, acceptable and publicly owned (or controlled) location to discharge pumped water. For water quality reasons, it is not legal for the town to create new storm water discharges to the Atlantic Ocean or Bogue Sound, thus all storm water must be effectively infiltrated on the island. Due to the lack of available public land, and the understandable reluctance of other private property owners to accept pumped storm water, this results in limited options for the town to resolve the remaining concerns. With that said, however, the town continues to explore and implement various alternatives in small areas where feasible.
New ‘Wayfinding’ Signs To Be Installed
In an effort to provide better directions to public facilities for our visitors, and to enhance the aesthetics of the downtown area and other areas along the Highway 58 corridor, the town will be installing new, decorative “wayfinding” signs with the new Emerald Isle logo during spring 2016. The new signs have an attractive design, and will direct visitors to key facilities, including beach accesses, soundside accesses, parks, public buildings and more.
Controlled Deer Hunt
Planned for January and February
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission recently completed an updated deer population estimate in Emerald Isle, and has recommended that the town remove 30-50 deer from the local population this winter. EIPD officers will utilize bow-and-arrow to take deer from public right-of-ways and other public properties during overnight hours on weeknights only in January (and potentially in February also). These are the same protocols used successfully in January 2015. All deer meat will be donated to the Hope Mission in Morehead City, and will be used to feed the hungry in our county.
Renew Your Golf Cart Registration Now
Annual golf cart registrations must be renewed in January for 2016. Please contact the town administration at 252-354-3424 or visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/golf-card-registration-program to renew. In an effort to improve the visibility of plate numbers, the town will issue new license plates for 2016. Enjoy your golf cart!
Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon
& 5K Races – Saturday, April 9
The 3rd annual Emerald Isle Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 5K Races will be held on Saturday, April 9 at the Western Ocean Regional Access. The full Marathon begins at 6:15am, followed by the Half-Marathon at 8:15am and the 5K race begins at 8:30am. The 2015 races attracted nearly 1,600 runners and raised $50,000 for heart charities and the Emerald Isle bike path, and we hope to surpass those totals in 2016! The 2016 races will benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Emerald Isle bike path. Start your training now and sign up at www.emeraldislerun.com.
Purchase Your Own Emerald Isle
Logo / Nice Matters T-Shirt
The town has received a very positive response to the new Emerald Isle logo and the new “Nice Matters” tag line. If you’d like to purchase a T-shirt with the new logo and tag line, please visit the town administration building at 7509 Emerald Drive. T-shirts are $15 each.