Is Suffolk’s infrastructure strong enough?

Published 11:35 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It would be hard to find anyone who has driven through downtown Suffolk recently and has not come away with the clear understanding that Suffolk is a city on the “grow.” It would be equally as hard to find anyone who has taken a Sunday drive through the highways and byways of North Suffolk — in particular areas around Shoulders Hill Road, Bennetts Creek Park Road and Harbour View — and has not come to the same conclusion.

But, the same drive — especially during morning commutes or the evening rush to get home — is proof positive the city, in certain places, has fully grown faster than the current infrastructure can handle.

Traffic congestion along North Main Street and East Washington Streets in downtown has become problematic for businesses along these roads and proven disheartening to anyone wanting to go anywhere in historic downtown. Many parking lots have reached their capacity and with new, exciting development along East Washington Street, the problem will only get worse.

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Add to that already frustrating stew of traffic headaches the frequent visits by freight trains, and the difficulties mount.

The current road construction on North Main Street is undoubtedly necessary and there is really no good time to do major road construction on this stretch of road. But the weeks of work, reducing flow on this four-lane road down to just two lanes, have proven that further development of other north and south thoroughfares is needed and needed quickly.

The infrastructure in North Suffolk is newer, better planned and better prepared for future growth. But as North Suffolk grows, so will the rest of Suffolk, much of which was built long before anyone thought 80,000 residents was a certainty.

A strong and vibrant downtown is a strong indicator of the overall health of a city, and good things are happening and are planned for downtown. It is our hope the infrastructure and planned development will be in position to meet that growth.