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Shapiro & Appleton

Is Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA) motorist relief plan stalled?

Posted on Jun 14, 2007
As a resident of Norfolk, Virginia (VA) who commutes to Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) for my work as a personal injury lawyer, I have watched with interest the progress our local Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA) governments are making to approve a road plan to get traffic moving better in Southeastern Virginia (VA). My commute is actually a reverse one going from Norfolk, Virginia (VA) to Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) in the morning when most workers are going the opposite way. However, traffic in Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA) has gotten bad enough to almost catch up with the traffic snarls for motorists in Northern Virginia (VA), outside of Washington D.C.

This year the Virginia (VA) Legislature approved a plan that would allow the local governments to tax themselves to provide funds for road projects here in Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA). In order for this plan to pass 7 of the regions 12 localities must approve it. Thus far, the majority of the Tidewater, Virginia (VA) area residents already approved the plan by the vote of the City Councils in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, and Williamsburg, Virginia (VA). James City County voted yes on June 13, 2007. Three area municipalities have already voted no namely York County, Hampton, and Poquoson, Virginia (VA). One has indicated that it will probably vote no to improving the roads and those are, namely, Chesapeake, Virginia (VA). The Chesapeake vote is ironic because most of the new roads that will be funded by the plan will be in Chesapeake. That leaves that the fate of area motorist in the hands of the leaders of Isle of Wight, as well as the City of Suffolk.

One of those three counsels must approve the plan, or it won’t happen. The problem is even with this plan the traffic problems will only begin to be addressed in the next 5 years. Without the plan there is almost no chance of any relief for a decade. One valid complaint about the road plan is that, instead of the Virginia State Legislature taxing everyone across the state to provide for the states road needs, they have pushed the problem onto the local governments. This is certainly less than perfect. However, this compromise plan to improve the roads is better than no improvement at all. Although, quality of life and economic vitality are the main reasons why Hampton Roads needs highway funding, there are also public safety issues.

Crowed roads and stop and go traffic on major highways are a big problem leading to automobile accidents and injuries. One of the main reasons that people have car crashes is because of variable speed of different vehicles on the road. One truck is trying to go 65 miles per hour as the expected speed on a major highway like Interstate 64 East in Norfolk, Virginia and a car is suddenly slowing to 30 miles per hour because of breaking vehicles ahead before the interchange heading to Chesapeake. This is a situation ripe for a collision. The truck may not be able to stop quickly enough because of the way brakes work on tractor trailers. The big rig could end up jack knifing or going out of control as a result of locking up his brakes in an effort to stop or slow suddenly because of the unexpected traffic. Another scenario where wrecks regularly occur is also caused by
highway bottlenecks for instance, when the traffic is really thick during the morning on Interstate 264, going from Virginia Beach, Virginia (VA) into downtown Norfolk, the cars tend to get more compressed together rather than leaving the space they should between vehicles.

If a person driving a minivan drastically slows because of the backed up traffic going through the downtown tunnel to Portsmouth, Virginia (VA), the commuter following too close right behind the van may rear end it if the commuter takes their eye off the road for just a second. We all know how common rear end collisions are. Once an accident happens on the highway, there is also a chance of chain reaction wrecks happening behind the first collision, causing more people to be hurt or even possibly killed. Another problem that can occur as a result of snarled traffic is
road rage. Some motorists get out of control angry as a result of being late for an appointment or just inconvenienced by the parking lot traffic trying to cross the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel to Hampton, Virginia. They may do something reckless in their driving, like trying to drive on the shoulder, or just being aggressive with their car or truck. Obviously, a person who is not able to control his emotions is a risk to other motorists as well as the passengers in his own car. Finally, there is the public safety issue of hurricane evacuation. Hampton Roads, Virginia (VA) has the benefit of being on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. This also makes us susceptible to hurricanes and flooding. One of the main things that would be improved as far as public safety by improving the highway system would be to allow people to better escape in the event of an emergency.

One of the main evacuation routes would be for residents of Chesapeake to get out of town to the west on route 460 toward Emporia, Virginia, or Petersburg, Virginia. I think it’s inconceivable that the leaders of our Hampton Roads cities would allow this opportunity to fix the road system to pass and expose their citizens to an increased danger of everyday automobile accidents and potential catastrophic harm from having too many vehicles on too little road.

About the Editors: Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia (VA), near the NE North Carolina (NC) border and handles car,truck,railroad, and medical negligence cases and more. Our lawyers proudly edit the Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard, and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as a pro bono public information service. Lawyers licensed in: VA, NC, SC, WV, DC, KY.

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