Push in Emerald Isle to use DOT message boards for ocean conditions

EMERALD ISLE, NC (WITN) With three deaths in Emerald Isle this season due to dangerous water conditions town officials and residents are urging the state to take action to help keep people safe this summer.

They're asking for help from the Department of Transportation and the large electronic traffic signs like the ones along the Cameron B. Langston bridge.

Emerald Isle resident Danny Shell says, "A critical piece of information that doesn't cost anything, it doesn't take a whole lot of time I wouldn't think. And we're getting a powerful message up there, along with other protocols that may save a life."

Town officials are also urging the state's Department of Transportation to display messages warning town visitors about the dangerous water conditions.

Randy Martin, Interim Town Manager says, "Previously there had been some discussions and the response was that they were restricted in their use to highway safety, and that's it."

A spokesperson with the DOT says in some cases the Federal Highway Administration restricts what messages can be displayed on those signs.

Shell says those regulations shell says need be re-examined. "It's time to re-examine the best use of those signs to help us here save a life. And to me, from the outside looking in, it's not that complicated. Let's just get it done."

The Department of Transportation says the town has their own portable electronic signs that can serve the same purpose that they believe would be more effective. They also said drivers tend to ignore those signs if they display a constant message, and while logistically they can be changed instantly, if a traffic alert did come up that they would have to take down that warning message.

In addition to his efforts with the Department of Transportation, Shell also says he has written letters to Governor Roy Cooper as well as Senator Norm Sanderson to create movement on this initiative.