Archived Story

The road better less traveled

Published 8:41pm Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Community newspaper reporter is one of those jobs where you don’t really get to drop your proverbial briefcase at the door and switch off when you arrive home.

The main reason is that news can strike at any time, and eternal vigilance is often required to recognize it.

A story, for instance, can strike just outside your car while driving between home and work, which is when a journalist really should be alert. Not so much to avoid becoming the story — though, that’s always a good idea — but to recognize one when it’s happening.

It doesn’t have to be something like a brazen crime unfolding on a street corner. More likely it’s a community event advertised on a message board or a new business moving into a vacant storefront.

To increase the chances of spying a story during the daily commute, it’s a good idea to constantly vary one’s route.

Of course, deadlines and sleeping in mean the quickest route is the most used, but a few times a week my commute enters less familiar territory.

Interstate 664 and Route 58 is traded for Bridge Road, Bennett’s Pasture Road, Pughsville Road and/or Nansemond Parkway.

But I rarely regret the decision to mix things up more than shortly after turning on to Portsmouth Boulevard toward Nansemond Parkway.

Pretty soon, I’m sharing the road with excavators and backhoes, interminable traffic cones, other soon-to-be-irate or already-there motorists, and traffic controllers who like to rotate their signs from “go” to “woe” as soon as they spy a certain beige Ford Taurus.

To anyone who is fed-up with the time it’s taking to widen Nansemond Parkway, I feel your pain.

The city of Suffolk has said the first phase of the project is behind schedule, but expects that portion to be complete this spring. Going by the present schedule, the entire project through to I-664 should be complete by the end of 2014, when Chesapeake says it will finish its portion along Portsmouth Boulevard.

The first phase in Suffolk, from the Commonwealth Railway to Helen Street, will be done in April, the city says, if cold conditions in March interfere with the installation of the final course of asphalt and pavement markings. But with a warm spring, it could be mostly completed and open to traffic by late March.

A two-lane divided road into North Suffolk from Chesapeake Square should be a boon for motorists and businesses. Eventually. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for more inconvenience.



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