An accident waiting to happen

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 19, 2004

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2004, there was a horrific automobile accident on Nansemond Parkway (Route 337) directly in front of Nansemond River High School.

The accident resulted in the nearly fatal injury of 17-year-old Christina Maupin, a Nansemond River High School student. The cause of the accident is unknown. It does, however, appear that the student inadvertently pulled out of the school parking lot into the path of an oncoming 5-ton flat bed truck.

Witnesses say that it seemed the student’s view was obstructed by another turning vehicle. The accident occurred at approximately 5 p.m. and was witnessed by scores of horrified students that were still at the high school attending various after school athletic functions.

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This is not the first automobile accident at this location, but certainly one of the worst. Since the rapid expansion of the northern Suffolk area, the few roads that lead from central and south Suffolk to the northern area have become extremely congested with vehicular traffic, most notably, Nansemond Parkway.

Congestion, as well as the probability of more serious accidents, will only increase with the development of another four subdivisions in the northern Suffolk area; add to this the complete absence of any new road development in the city to accommodate this massive influx of traffic and you have the proverbial &uot;accident waiting to happen.&uot;

I learned on a local news station that there was a proposal to install a traffic light at this location in the past, but it was denied. I don’t see how anyone could deny that a traffic light is needed at a point where a high school parking lot exits onto a severely congested, two lane road. Many times I’ve sat in the bleachers watching my daughter’s field hockey game and heard the screeching of brakes; I cringe at the sound.

I learned from an article in the Suffolk News-Herald that the city is planning to pay rent for a parking lot for Baron’s restaurant located downtown. This is appalling; the city will spend tax revenue on a parking lot to lure people into the downtown area but won’t spend the necessary money to install a traffic light at a location where a young girl was almost killed? Someone please explain the logic because I don’t understand it.

I have resided in Suffolk for more than eight years and I’ve watched the north end of this city grow tremendously. I’ve watched the west side grow considerably as well, but the only new road that I know of that’s been constructed is the southern leg of the Hwy 58 bypass. If the city isn’t going to build more roads to reduce the traffic congestion, then I would hope they attempt to at least make the roads safer; especially for our young, inexperienced drivers. I would like to see a traffic light installed in front of Nansemond River High school and a study performed to determine the safety of the other schools in the city.

As city planners, you’ll make mistakes on the development of the city, that’s understandable, but please have the integrity to realize what the right thing to do is and just do it.

Andrew S. Key is a resident of Suffolk.