Build the turn lanes

Published 11:43 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It doesn’t take too many trips down Nansemond Parkway to see that it’s a road with some severe problems. Whether one travels from Chesapeake Square into Suffolk or the other way around, the two-lane highway can be a nightmare of stopping and waiting for the folks in front of you who are turning left across oncoming traffic. Add in the danger of people attempting to pass from the oncoming lane, and the road becomes one of the best ones to avoid in Suffolk.

But Nansemond Parkway is too important to the city to be ignored. The road has four schools scattered along its length, along with a couple of large churches, an industrial park and several of the city’s fastest-growing residential areas. Much as folks in Suffolk might like to avoid it, that’s just not possible for a large percentage of them.

City planners, at least, are looking out for those who must deal with the traffic and danger along Nansemond Parkway. During a meeting this week, they turned down a request from Tabernacle Baptist Church to be able to operate a daycare facility without having to build the turn lanes called for by a city traffic study of the road.

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The study suggests that any new construction along Nansemond Parkway be required to include turn lanes to alleviate traffic problems caused by those turning in to the parking lots. Tabernacle was built prior to the traffic study. Its new daycare facility, however, would put the church squarely within the new guidelines.

There was significant pressure for planners to back off those guidelines, as it’s clear that the church does good work within its community and that a church daycare in that area could be a positive force there for both parents and children. However, the road’s problems cannot be ignored safely, and commissioners were right to deny the exception Tabernacle sought in pursuit of a conditional use permit.

In the end, it will be up to City Council whether or not to go along with the Planning Commission’s decision. For the safety and convenience of everybody who travels Nansemond Parkway, Council’s answer should be unequivocal: Build the turn lane.