Road desperate for improvement

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There’s plenty wrong with Nansemond Parkway.

It takes hardly more than one trip down the highway for drivers to experience one or more of the problems that plague the road and that spurred the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization to undertake a recent study of it and to make a bundle of recommendations aimed at addressing those problems.

Heavy traffic, inconsistent school zones, nonexistent shoulders and turn lanes — all work together to produce a road with a poor record of safety and an uncanny ability to cause frustration to drivers of all ages and levels of driving experience.

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Transportation planners recognize the danger in letting those problems go unchecked, as well as the likelihood that current development policies will only exacerbate the dangers inherent along Nansemond Parkway unless they are amended.

Hence, planners released a report last month calling on the city of Suffolk to address the safety issues with a comprehensive set of changes. Wider shoulders, rumble strips, new traffic signals, new turn lanes and smaller school zones were among the recommendations. Another, potentially more controversial, suggestion was that the city restrict future housing along the highway by requiring new homes to share their driveways with existing ones, thereby cutting down on the number of vehicles turning off of and onto the road.

Some of the recommendations would require significant cash outlays by the city; others call for less money and more accommodation by drivers; still others would require property owners to give up parts of their property for right-of-way.

All are sacrifices worth considering if they will help increase safety along Nansemond Parkway. With three different schools, several churches, housing developments, commercial properties and scores of homes located alongside the long Suffolk highway, there is too much at stake to leave things to the status quo.

Suffolk officials need to take the HRTPO’s recommendations seriously and get to work implementing them soon. The safety of everyone who uses that road is at stake.