Pine Knoll Shores commissioners to discuss speed limit along Highway 58 this week

Traffic passes along Highway 58 in Pine Knoll Shores recently at a speed limit of 45 mph. This week, town commissioners will discuss a proposal to lower the speed limit to 35 mph year-round. (Mike Shutak photo)

PINE KNOLL SHORES — On Wednesday, town officials will discuss pursuing lowering the speed limit on Highway 58 in Pine Knoll Shores, a proposal that’s received a mixed response from residents.

Town clerk Charlie Rocci announced Friday the board of commissioners will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss Police Chief Ryan Thompson’s recommendation to lower the speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph. The meeting will be open to the public online via Webinar. To register, visit register.gotowebinar.com/register/3525171032122206735.

The existing speed limit includes a seasonal change to lower it to 35 mph in the off season. This was previously done in sync with a similar seasonal speed limit change in Atlantic Beach; however, that town recently requested the N.C. Department of Transportation make the speed limit on Highway 58 in their town 35 mph year-round, which the department granted.

Pine Knoll Shores residents and property owners have some thoughts on the year-round speed change. During the commission’s March 24 budget meeting, Mr. Rocci read 13 emails and text messages submitted on the proposal.

Resident Frank Weskel said he and his wife, both of whom commute off Bogue Banks to work, support a 35 mph speed limit.

“With all the people crossing (Highway 58) to the beach it makes sense to drop to 35,” he said. “Also, it may make some of the crosswalks safer. (I) can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen close calls.… As traffic continues to grow, the most important factor is our beach community safety, not getting to a bridge two minutes faster.”

Resident Yolanda Lozano said she’s also willing to support the lower speed limit, which she said will ensure safety “for motorists and pedestrians alike.”  

She did say, however, she’s concerned about a potential safety hazard of golf carts driving on Highway 58. State law allows street-legal, low-speed vehicles to drive on state roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or lower.

Meanwhile, resident Dennis Negran said he’s opposed to lowering the speed limit.

“Just because people want to drive their golf carts on a public road doesn’t mean everyone else has to change,” he said. “This is a case of the tail wagging the dog…This is the same issue all of us have with Morehead City and the surrounds [sic], having speed limits of 45 or 55 and dodging scooters that can’t even go 35 mph. Why do we have to get tied up behind vehicles that can’t even do the minimum speed? Drivers following slow vehicles get frustrated and do unsafe passes.”

Resident Jock Heckman is also opposed to making the Highway 58 speed limit 35 in town.

“This sounds like lousy, feel-good lawmaking to me,” he said. “The anticipated problem is caused by allowing non-licensed vehicles on public roads, where by definition such vehicles are prohibited or should be…the 50 mph traffic already illustrates that the limit is about right as it currently exists and lowering it won’t change the potential for disaster.”

Anyone who’d like to speak online during the Wednesday meeting’s public comment may request a speaking period by emailing Mr. Rocci at clerk@townofpks.com. Requests must be sent 24 hours prior to the meeting. Speakers will be limited to three minutes.

Written comments may also be submitted and will be read during public comment at the meeting.

 

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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