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'Misplaced' signs may have travelers taking long way around

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

CALABASH—Do you know the way to Calabash or Carolina Shores?

If you’re an out-of-towner trying to find your way to either western Brunswick County town, maybe not.

Officials in both towns have complained state highway department signs pointing out directions to the towns along U.S. 17 are improperly placed.

The signs are at the intersection with N.C. 904, which is several miles from the actual roads leading to the towns farther south.

The issue first arose at a Carolina Shores meeting last summer, when former commissioner and mayor Jack Elliott noted there are no directional signs at any of the three intersections that actually lead to the town—Country Club, Persimmon and Thomasboro roads.

Last week, the matter came up again at a May 13 Calabash commission meeting.

“We got people who drive up and down Highway 17 and don’t even know where Calabash is at,” Calabash commissioner Bill Dixon said.

Fellow commissioner Forrest King said he also has a problem with the way the signs are placed.

Town building inspector Stanley Dills said if travelers take N.C. 904, they’ll find another sign directing them to turn toward Calabash by taking Old Georgetown Road.

“People get lost,” said Dixon, who owns a Calabash restaurant. “They say, ‘We saw the sign to Calabash and turned.’”

Rod White, traffic services supervisor for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said the reason the signs are where are they are is because the department can only place them along primary routes.

“We’re only primary-to-primary, not secondary,” White said Monday.

Since U.S. 17 is a primary road, the place-name signs can only go next to other routes designated as “primary” such as N.C. 904, he said.

The roads leading to Calabash and Carolina Shores are secondary routes, White said.

“We don’t like 18-wheelers to use those small secondary roads,” he said. “If you’re a local person you’re going to know how to get there anyway.”

He also said travelers can use MapQuest.

“Any tourist is going to know how to get there from MapQuest or prior [visitation],” White said.

Elliott said he got nowhere when he tried to complain to state highway departments in both Carolinas. He said he also took issue with Calabash directional signs leading out of Little River, S.C., which omit Carolina Shores.

“My complaint was when you enter the state of North Carolina from South Carolina, you don’t hit a sign that mentions Calabash or Carolina Shores until you’re up to 904,” Elliott said.

He said that’s about six miles from the state line.

He noted NCDOT has allowed signs for Farmstead and Meadowlands golf courses along the highway.

“I think that’s an important issue,” Elliott said. “I think that throws traffic there that would not normally go there.”

“I even asked for a town limit sign,” he said, since portions along both sides of U.S. 17 near Country Club Road are in Carolina Shores’ town limits.

“Nobody wants to talk to me about it,” Elliott said of NCDOT.

White said if a change is sought, NCDOT reviews such matters on a case-by-case basis.