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Possible Solutions to OBX Summertime Traffic Discussed

Division I Engineer, Jerry Jennings, speaking at the Jarvisburg Elementary School

Just about anyone who has visited the Outer Banks in the summer knows that on weekends traffic backs up . . . and the backup can be pretty frustrating. The recent news that the Mid Currituck Bridge is back in NCDOT plans has given hope that a solution is on the horizon, but construction is not scheduled to begin until 2019 and won’t be completed until 2023.

So, in the interim, something has to be done, and that was the subject of a meeting held at the Jarvisburg Elementary School—a few miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge—on Monday night.

After listening to an hour of presentation from state officials, and another 45 minutes of questions and suggestions from the audience, what is absolutely clear is there is no clear answer.

There are some incremental improvements that will probably yield some improvement but in the short-term, there isn’t much that can be done.

One suggestion that may be used, is greater police presence at major intersection in Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk to prevent gridlock. If the idea yielded any improvement, it would be very small.

An interim suggestion that Jerry Jennings from NCDOT indicated has been considered, is adding southbound lanes on US158 at the intersection with NC12. According to Jennings, no specific counts of cars going north from that intersection have been done, so it’s difficult to predict what the impact would be on the intention. However, the idea should help to move traffic more quickly to the Wright Memorial Bridge.

Falling Gas Prices Make Outer Banks More Tempting

Now that gas prices are falling and it looks as though they are going to stay on the lower side of $3.00/gallon for a while, a trip to the Outer Banks is becoming even more tempting.

Of course, here at Brindley Beach we think any time is a good time to visit, but the falling gas prices certainly makes the trip a little more affordable. And even in the off season, there is still a lot to do for our visitors.

The Christmas season is a very special time for us, and for any of our visitors who have not been here at this time of the year, we urge you to think about stopping by. The pace of life is slower, there’s a wonderful feeling of community and for anyone who is missing the small town feel to Christmas, come for a week or a long weekend and discover why we love this place we call home.

Since we’re talking about visiting the Outer Banks, this is probably a good time to remind our visitors to make your summer reservations as early as you can. It’s been said many times, but it’s still true. “Shop early for best selection.” 

In other words, let us know your plans as soon as possible so we can help you find the right Outer Banks home for your family.

 

Hopeful Signs for the Mid Currituck Bridge

Some great news about the Mid Currituck Bridge just came out of State Senator Cook’s office. The announcement that funding has been included for the project is being restored and the bridge is considered a priority within NCDOT Division 1 is encouraging news.

There are, however, a number of hurdles still to go.

First of all, construction is not scheduled to begin until 2019, and the information provided at this point in time does not show any funds in the NCDOT budget for years, although state official maintain that funding will be available.

A major part of any ongoing funding will be developing a new Environmental Impact Statement. Although significant portions of the existing EIS will still be relevant, there is new information that will have to be included to bring the study up to date.

There is reason to be wondering about how the project will be funded.

The law the state passed last year has changed the way all highway projects are evaluated. The Mid Currituck Bridge is considered a Division 1 (northeastern NC) priority and would be funded primarily from a divisional budget.

There is a revenue bond that will account for most of the money for the first year, but there is still $27 million that will be needed.

The new way of figuring which transportation projects receive funds in North Carolina evaluates everything by statewide, regional and divisional priorities. It would be hard to see how Division 1 could afford an outlay of $27 million without causing significant delays in other projects.

Although the project is a divisional priority, in the new ranking system it has not rated as well on a regional or statewide level—and it will need funds from either the regional or state budget to move forward.

The project was originally conceived as a private/public partnership (PPP) and no one is quite certain where that will be five years from now.

So the takeaway is this is definitely good news for supporters of the bridge, but there is still a long way to go.

Back to Normal on the Outer Banks

The view from Kitty Hawk Pier on Wednesday morning.

That was a heck of a nor’easter we just experienced. Huge wave, some ocean over wash, lots of rain . . . there was even a juvenile humpback whale that washed up on the Corolla beach, got pulled back out to sea and brought back to Duck where it was laid to rest. That’s a pretty rare event anywhere and most of us can’t remember any humpback whales being washed ashore along the Outer Banks.

The storm is gone and good riddance to it. It seemed to move pretty quickly up the coast once it made up its mind to get moving, but it sure took it’s good old time about heading north. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were not the best of days. Winds from the NE at 25mph, spitting rain, the waves were coming in at 10-15’ . . . a typical nor’easter, although once again the folks down on Hatteras Island were cut off when the ocean breached the dunes on NC 12

And then it passes, we clean up, scrape the roads clear of sand, push the sand back on the dunes and life pretty much returns to normal.

Today was a nice day, although the surf was still running very high. Sunshine in the morning, a few clouds in the afternoon, temperature cool, but not that cold. Back to normal.

Outer Banks Holiday Duck Style

The Village of Duck seems to have their own way of going about things, and certainly their Holiday celebration is not an exception to that rule.

Most places light a Christmas Tree; Duck stacks crab pots seven high, string multi-colored lights on it, put a lighted duck on top and use that for their holiday tree lighting ceremony. It’s all in good fun and as important as anything else they do, it’s very much in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Santa does make an appearance, riding into the Village Green where the festivities are held, in a fire truck with sirens wailing. The Santa Duck brings to the kids, may be the best ever—he actually talks to every single child who comes to visit him. A little bit slower than usual, but for the kids well worth the wait because Santa truly shows an interest in what is happening in their lives.

The Town of Duck always invites a couple of local charities. For the past couple of years it’s been Food for Thought, a local group who makes sure every school child in Dare County has a breakfast and lunch during the school year. The other charity that was there was the Outer Banks SPCA.

Actually, town officials go out of their way to make sure the event is pet friendly and there are dogs everywhere. Happy dogs too, as far as we could tell.

Music by Emme St. James, a remarkable vocalist from Richmond. The rain held off until the ceremonies were done, the cookies and coffee were free . . . a great way to begin celebrating the holidays.

Outer Banks Holiday Season in Full Swing

The Holiday Season is in full swing on the Outer Banks and there is so much to do, it’s tough to fit it all in. 

Tonight Manteo lights its Christmas tree, a wonderful small town celebration complete with free hot chocolate and homemade Brunswick stew. Right up the road and immediately after the tree lighting the First Flight High School Advanced Choir will be performing at the Elizibethan Gardens for their annual winter lights that line the garden paths with 1000s of lights.

Tomorrow the Town of Duck gets in the act as they light their crab pot Christmas tree. All the stores are decorated, Santa shows up in a fire engine and it is worth noting that this Santa is the real deal.

One of the biggest events of the holiday season is coming up this week—the Outer Banks Hotline Festival of Trees will be held Thursday through Saturday (12/11-12/13) at the Outer Banks Brewing Station. An amazing example of how generous the Outer Banks is, the trees are filled with donated gifts from area businesses—big gifts, like cases of wine, fine jewelry, custom artwork—and folks bid on the trees. 

A great fundraiser and a wonderful time . . . complete with Santa and hot chocolate.

Outer Banks Continues Strong Shoulder Season

Scene from the 3rd Annual Outer Banks Seafood Fest, one of many October events improving the shoulder season for property owners.

About once a month we take a step back from reporting the goings and comings of everyday life on the Outer Banks and look at what’s happening in the property management picture. 

The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau reports just came out for October and things are still looking good . . . very good.

It’s the big picture we’re looking at, so as the saying goes, “individual results may vary . . .” but the big picture we’re seeing makes for good viewing.

How good? At the end of October, Dare County’s 2014 occupancy receipts had already matched 2013. We’ve mentioned this before about the reports, but it does bear repeating, this is only for Dare County. Currituck County is much slower in reporting their occupancy tax receipts.

Nonetheless, it’s a very strong showing—particularly strong for homeowners, the category our property owners are specifically interested in. Also of note, the northern beaches, Duck to Nags Head where Brindley Beach properties are located, showed a 10.3% monthly increase in revenue over last year.

In going over the reports, the towns of Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head seem to be doing particularly well. With our new office in Kill Devil Hills, Brindley Beach is well placed to help property owners in those two towns.

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