Public makes suggestions about proposed truck ban
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Better enforcement of existing traffic laws.
Outfitting Suffolk-based tractor-trailers with special identification stickers.
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Asking Chesapeake to consider banning truck traffic along the stretch of Portsmouth Boulevard running from Interstate 664 and the Suffolk line.
Those were among the handful of suggestions voiced by the 50 or so residents who attended a public hearing on the city’s proposal to ban truck traffic on Nansemond Parkway, from Wilroy Road to the Chesapeake border. City officials have repeatedly stressed that ban would apply only to through traffic, not truckers doing business in that area.
The proposal is part of an effort to prevent truckers who now use the road as a shortcut to avoid the state’s weigh scales on U.S. Route 58.
Residents at the hearing gave repeated accounts of close-calls with accidents; seeing tractor-trailers and cars alike avoiding posted speed limits, particularly around schools, and traffic signals; and constant problems with tailgating.
&uot;I think the biggest danger is the cars that are illegally passing and not obeying the speed limit,&uot; one business owner said. &uot;If everyone is serious about this thing, we need to look at better enforcement of existing laws.
&uot;I don’t think the trucks are nearly as big a problem as the cars.&uot;
Several people recounted stories of feeling endangered by the aggressive driving of motorists.
&uot;Any time I slow down to the 35 mph posted speed limit in school zones, I have tractor trailers on my behind,&uot; one woman said. &uot;They don’t slow up.&uot;
And when a tractor-trailer does have an accident on Portsmouth Boulevard, it often ties up traffic in both directions for hours, added another resident.
Motorists will be safer if truck traffic used the six-lane Route 58, she said.
School Board member John Riddick said he wants to see the through truck traffic rerouted because of the large number of schools along Nansemond Parkway.
&uot;Statistically, there are more schools along Nansemond Park that on any other part of the city… and we recently decided to build a new elementary school on Shoulders Hill Road,&uot; Riddick said. &uot;That is exactly 4,446 students.
&uot;This is dangerous for the children…; we have got to look after our children.&uot;
City Council members Leroy Bennett and Linda Johnson will be taking the comments back to the council on Jan. 21 when the board will consider a proposal that would ask the Virginia Department of Transportation to close off the road to through truck traffic by posting signs.
If passed, it could take nearly a year before the VDOT completes its study, makes a decision and puts up signs.