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Guardrails save lives

Published 10:21pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

To the editor:

Recently, the same old somber song played out on Route 58 east of Suffolk. There was yet another fatality added to a long list along the stretch of highway between the regional landfill and the Chesapeake city line.

This stretch of highway, sometimes referred to as “The Six Lanes,” has long been a source of sobering statistics. While involved in volunteer emergency medical services for 16 years, I witnessed plenty of carnage here on The Six Lanes.

I have responded to many crashes involving fatalities and serious injuries in the past that could have been avoided with the presence of guardrails. The posted speed limit is 60 mph, with most traffic traveling in excess of 65 mph. The problem is not with the road; it lies with the speed and lack of margin for error.

Many lives could be saved with the addition of guardrails on both sides of the roadway. This section of road amounts to a three-lane drag strip in each direction. It doesn’t seem to matter how fast one travels — there will always be another driver passing.

Go visit any drag strip and you will find guardrails installed. There is a partial guardrail on the eastbound left shoulder that most certainly has saved lives.

There has also been a noticeable increase in police presence. The increased patrols will not stop a car from hurtling into a stand of trees or a water-filled ditch. This scenario is likely not survivable.

This section of road is so dangerous, that I frequent the middle lane for added security and margin of error. Other times, it is best to avoid this route altogether by going around through Nansemond Parkway and Portsmouth Boulevard.

The trouble with this route is that it also is increasingly dangerous because of the degradation of the road surface and increased truck traffic avoiding the Route 58 weigh scales.

We don’t need another costly traffic study. This is a “Just do it” project. Let’s not wait until a prominent person dies here before we act. It is time for the City of Suffolk to act by installing guardrails along both sides of Route 58. It is highly time to change the tune.

Guardrails save lives.

Kevin Carroll

Suffolk

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