Monday, March 4, 2024

Surf City area DIY toll road in bad shape after 180,000 trips for just 70 residents

The toll road was never intended as a money-making operation or a way to keep people out of the neighborhood, organizers say. Instead, it was intended to get the NCDOT's attention -- but so far, they haven't had any luck.

Members of the neighborhood road maintenance organization elected to collect a toll for through traffic traveling to Surf City (Port City Daily photo/Michael Praats)
Members of the neighborhood road maintenance organization elected to collect a toll for through traffic traveling to Surf City. (Port City Daily photo/Michael Praats)

SURF CITY — It’s been almost a year since homeowners took matters into their own hands and set up an impromptu tollbooth to help reduce the amount of cut-through traffic on their private road, Cedar Avenue — but following Hurricane Florence, things have only gotten worse.

Damage to the road was extensive, the amount of traffic traversing the street exceeded residents expectations, and outside support is nowhere to be found.

Jeff Conerly helps run the Cedar Landing 2 & Creek Estates Road Maintenance Organization and has been on the front lines trying to get support for the worn down roadway. Unfortunately, the group has had little luck. The main goal of the tollbooth was not to keep people out of the neighborhood but to highlight the importance of the road as a bypass and convince the state to take over the maintenance of it.

“Our ongoing private road saga continues with no outside support in 2019. Even with the toll road publicity last year, the traffic continues to increase on our private roads,” Conerly said.

Related: Facing heavy traffic and poor street maintenance, these Pender County residents made their own toll

In an effort to get a grasp on just how many cars are using the road as a shortcut, the organization employed a traffic counter to track the trips made on the road — the numbers are staggering for Conerly, especially when compared to the number of full-time residents.

“We ended 2018 with about 180,000 vehicles on our road in a community of less than 70 full-time residents. This is past the point of believable. We even have residents now that don’t believe the numbers.  I must admit that I questioned the numbers and therefore the counters’ accuracy. We are using a high-end counter but only the very basic vehicle volume count feature; can’t afford the software for full analysis of the numbers. I have audited the counter a few times and it has always come out correct so it really appears that the average of over 3,000 per week and climbing is a real and accurate number,” Conerly said.

Even if each resident made two round trips daily, that barely accounts for half the trips. Conerly said his organization had “exhausted the options that we know of and with the damages from 2018’s record rain and Florence we cannot afford to bring the road to a condition that is safe for that kind of traffic.”

The road has been open to the public for more than 30 years, which poses problems for the neighborhood from a legal standpoint, according to the group’s attorney. But in an effort to get ahead of any potential problems, the organization is preparing to reduce portions of the road to one lane.

“In preparation for 2019 traffic, we are going to reduce some of the road to a single lane to mitigate the risk resulting from 2018 road damages. Blockades and signage will be placed on April 15, 2019,” Conerly said.

Michael Praats can be reached at

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