Currituck failed to perform safety study for walking path


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

This is in response to the article written by Barry Ward in your Monday, May 30 edition regarding pedestrians getting access to the Corolla greenway sidewalk. 

Ten years ago, the Coastland Corporation agreed to donate a free right-of-way easement for the west side of N.C. Highway 12 that stretched all the way down to the Currituck Club. It not only was well off the road but included an effluent pipe which would disperse water and produce a lively green great belt as well. The county paid for an engineer to complete the plans and it was slated to be paid for with county use and occupancy tax revenue, almost all of which came from the Currituck Outer Banks beaches.

At the last moment the county cancelled the project, but they did build a $14 million — give or take — YMCA on the mainland from the use and occupancy tax funds. The YMCA is located in a remote area and is hard to find by any tourist. Over 90 percent of the use and occupancy tax revenue, according to reports, comes from the Outer Banks, not the mainland. Additionally, there are possible ongoing costs to Outer Banks taxpayers to maintain the YMCA. 

Meanwhile, during this time a number of serious pedestrian injuries and deaths have occurred on the Currituck Outer Banks. Maybe if the use and occupancy tax revenues had been invested in a safety study and a pedestrian path was built on the west side of N.C. 12, some of these people would be alive and uninjured today.

It should be noted that all of the sections developed in Ocean Sands since 1973 have private access from N.C. 12. A better plan could have built limited crosswalks across N.C. 12 to an easement on the west side. The current pedestrian path on the east side may increase safety issues and also the cost of the Ocean Sands Property Owners Association to hire more security and take other means to prevent trespassing on Ocean Sands’ private property. Ocean Sands property owners have already complained about people trespassing, especially from the Currituck Club seeking access to the beach. 

We asked Currituck County to perform a safety study on the Ocean Sands portion of the pedestrian path, which we understand has never been done. The town of Duck performed a safety study before it built its pedestrian path. A safety study was also performed for the U.S. Highway 158/Kitty Hawk pedestrian path. In view of Currituck County’s failure to conduct a safety study and plan the bike path accordingly, attorneys who represent people who get injured or killed on this pedestrian path may want to consider this failure in any damage claim against the county. 

Time will tell how successful the location of this pedestrian path is. We hope that no one gets injured and that the Ocean Sands property owners’ expenses for trespassers will be held to a minimum.

Jeanne Marcinko

Virginia Beach 

Editor’s note: The author is a spokeswoman for the Coastland Corporation.