An ode to Route 17 traffic lights

Published 7:29 pm Saturday, February 13, 2016

By Dr. William H. May

This past Sunday, a pretty day, I decided to take a ride,

To see my hospitalized daughter and my beautiful bride.

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As I left Crittenden and headed to Norfolk town,

I was astounded that there was not another car around.

It was a five-mile drive to the 164 expressway,

So I planned to enjoy the trip on this most peaceful day.


Over the Godwin Bridge, to Bennett’s Pasture Road,

The light was green – that’s against the Route 17 code.

I should have known better, as the light flipped to red,

So I sat and listened to a CD of the Grateful Dead.

The one car went through, and I thought to myself,

Now there is a row of seven cars, waiting on my left.


We went down the road another quarter of a mile,

Where Lee Farm Road met us with a big red-light smile.

I waited for a while, and then what did I see?

A line of 14 cars was now sitting behind me.

We made it to the strip shops; I thought we would be OK.

One car was turning from the center – now another delay.


At last, Shoulders Hill Road, where the light should be green.

But, alas, only the red was all that could be seen.

So we waited again, but I started to have some fear.

Now there were 26 cars sitting in idling gear.

Breezeport Way was next – one rarely has to stop there.

But of course the red light shone with a grinning glare.


Thirty-three vehicles were now sitting at the light.

Would I get to Sentara General before we hit the night?

At Plummer Boulevard, we stopped yet again to wait.

Now there were 39 vehicles that would be late.

As I drove down the expressway, I began to ask,

Why should we have to put up with such a task?


I know the city of Suffolk feels the costs are way too high,

But it seems such a waste that we just let it go by.

On a Sunday, 39 cars had to wait for six lights.

I hate to think of the commuters – both morning and nights.

Not only is the gas wasted – a considerable expense –

But the pollution it causes makes everyone tense.


For 25 years, I have made Suffolk my home,

And on this issue, I don’t think I stand alone.

On a four-lane roadway with a 45-miles-per-hour speed,

Delays causing expense and pollution we must heed.

If I am not the only one with these concerns to show,

Then call up the city, and please let them know.