Stoplights & rumble strips

Published 8:43 pm Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Nansemond Parkway corridor study released last month recommends wider shoulders, rumble strips, new traffic signals, new turn lanes and smaller school zones on the busy Suffolk road.

The city of Suffolk requested the study to identify improvements that will be needed within the next 10 years.

“All we really did was look at the capacity, which is how many vehicles can fit on that roadway,” said Stephanie Shealey, a transportation engineer at the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization, which conducted the study. “Will it have space for all the vehicles that want to travel on it?”

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The study analyzed a 5.57-mile stretch of Nansemond Parkway, from its intersection with Wilroy Road to the Chesapeake city line. The study included 10 intersections, including three with traffic lights. Average speed, crash data, personal observations and more were used to make a variety of recommendations.

The study found that by 2019, traffic volumes in the afternoon peak hours will increase by more than 100 percent in some areas. One major recommendation is that no new residential homes fronting on Nansemond Parkway be permitted.

“New residential units with frontage on Nansemond parkway should be discouraged,” the study states. “If a new residence is necessary on Nansemond Parkway, the property should be designed in order to take advantage of any existing driveways on neighboring properties.”

The same principle applies to commercial development, the study says. Shared-use entrances should be constructed wherever possible to reduce the number of entry points to the road.

Planned improvements include adding traffic signals to the intersections with Sleepy Hole Road, Bennetts Pasture Road and Bowen Parkway; widening the segment from the Chesapeake city line to Bowen Parkway from two to four lanes, with a raised median; and adding turn lanes to the intersection with Shoulders Hill Road.

Other recommendations include additional turn lanes at the intersections with Wilroy Road, Sleepy Hole Road and Bennetts Pasture Road; putting a traffic light at the intersection with Kings Highway; redesigning the intersections with Rochdale and Severn lanes; dividing the school zone for Nansemond Parkway Elementary School and Nansemond River High School into two zones; and adding sidewalks from nearby neighborhoods to Nansemond River High School.

The city also should add wider shoulders with rumble strips to give drivers more time to correct driver errors or avoid obstacles in the roadway, such as deer. Doing so also would provide more room for bicyclists, Shealey said.

“There were a lot of off-the-road accidents, so we recommended rumble strips with a paved shoulder for bicyclists as well,” Shealey said.

To view a summary of the study, visit