Another way to go

Published 11:16 pm Thursday, May 24, 2012

Here’s new evidence of Hampton Roads’ traffic problems: The Virginia Department of Transportation has unveiled electronic roadside information signs designed to help drivers determine the best route to the beach.

Whether they’re headed to Virginia Beach or to the Outer Banks, drivers can get a feeling for the latest traffic conditions with just a glance. Headed for Bower’s Hill from Suffolk, for instance, the signs tell the travel time to the beach using either I-64 or I-264.

As if Hampton Roads drivers needed to be reminded that it’s going to take them two or three times as long as it should to make what once was a half-hour trip.

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Suffolk drivers headed east have an especially tough choice in their commute: Take the Downtown Tunnel and get stuck on I-264 in one of the roughest parts of Portsmouth while waiting for the opportunity to creep through the tunnel and inhale the noxious fumes of the diesel-spewing tractor trailer ahead or head for the high-rise bridge and spend their time caught in the merging nightmare of that bridge anticipating the bonus traffic nightmare of the Greenbrier area.

Choosing the wrong time of day to make that beach trip could mean the difference between high and low tide.

Savvy Suffolk travelers — at least those savvy enough to skip the chaos and parking desert of Virginia Beach altogether — know there are quicker ways to the Outer Banks that have the added benefit of taking the traveler through some of Suffolk’s most scenic areas.

Many of those who have made that trip south along Route 32 have come to realize traveling that road is as much about the drive itself as it is about the destination. Which makes it that much different from sitting in traffic on I-64, wondering how long ago the time that was listed on the information board was updated.