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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Southeastern Parkway

I am here to clarify why I am against the Southeastern Parkway.
First, this has been 'in planning' for nearly 30 years. 30 years ago it was no more than a pipe dream allegedly created to ease future congestion. Great, that sounds like logical planning. Then, however, the city decided not to wait and to build large scale developments without the parkway (necessary infrastructure). Things such as Corporate Landing and residential communities so far away from the highway with little infrastructure near them represent BAD planning. They should never have been built. The Parkway is expected to cost upwards of $1 billion and currently has $0 funded. Improved mass transportation would do better to alleviate congestion. With gas prices always on the rise, people have decreased the amount they drive. In fact, the main source of revenue for this project (The Federal Highway Trust Fund), is set to run out of money this month because fuel consumption has dropped so dramatically that the gas tax cannot refill the Fund. This is not caused by more fuel efficient cars, but by people actually driving less.
Yes, I agree that there is congestion out there. However, I do not want my tax money to fund a project for a declining activity. I would much rather have my tax money spent on progressive ideas, such as mass transit or car pooling programs. Not to mention, for the most part it is still farmlands, however, this freeway is set to cut through at least one neighborhood. How would those residents feel, knowing that their homes have to be torn down so that you can get to your home quicker? Is that right? The residents in this region need to work together to solve our problems not against one another for self-serving causes. Not to mention that the connection point in Chesapeake, the Expressway, is already heavily congested in the morning commute, heading into Norfolk. An additional 4 lanes of traffic to this area will only lead to gridlock.
The $1 billion cost of this project could build nearly 30 miles of light rail if you use the cost-per-mile of Norfolk! All another highway would do is temporarily relieve congestion. It would not be complete for another 30 years and by then it would be largely useless because most people would have moved closer to the infrastructure that they need. A city's job is not to cater to the needs of each citizen but to cater to the needs of the city as a whole. The future of Virginia Beach is centered around the Virginia Beach Blvd-I264-Norfolk Southern Corridor. Without focusing on that, the city will die. I understand that the people in the middle area of VA Beach want easy access to a highway. Wouldn't it be nice to pull out of your driveway directly onto the highway? Reality check - The time and money to be spent on this project makes it not worth it.


Lord Bodak said...

I agree with most of your points. There's definitely a serious lack of planning-- the Southeastern Parkway should've been built 20 years ago using toll revenue from 44 (since they continued to toll us after the road was paid for despite the promises made when it was built, they could've at least kept the money here instead of spending it on God knows what). It also would've solved the neighborhood problem, as I suspect most of those neighborhoods didn't exist at the time.

Focusing on the I-264 corridor is only a short term solution. Only so much can be done in what is already a very crowded area. Growth is going to continue in the southern part of the city and there has to be a better way to access it. If light rail works along the old Norfolk Southern right of way (and I hope it does), then perhaps a light rail connection to southern VB would be a viable solution.

Russell Manning said...

I think that focusing on mass transit first would eliminate the need for a large scale road project. I know some of those roads are just 2-lane roads and I agree on widening them to, say, 4-lane. As for claiming that the Virginia Beach Blvd corridor is a "very crowded area," let me say this. It is only crowded by cars. These cars could move off the road if we had viable mass transit. As for population density, that corridor has an average of less than 5000 per sq. mile. I could not find statistics on downtown Norfolk, but I can guarantee that it is much higher than that. The VA Beach Blvd corridor is not crowded as much as it is congested

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