Petitioners ask for lower speed limit on 58

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Speaking on behalf of businesses and private property owners, Linda D. Simmons of Southampton Parkway informed the Southampton County Board of Supervisors on Monday that a petition is circulating to have the speed limit lowered from 55 mph to 45 mph on Route 58 (Southampton Parkway). Specifically, it would be in the area of the intersection where businesses such as Food Lion, Hardee’s, a service station and a suite of office buildings are located.

During the public comment period that evening, Simmons recalled that a similar request was made a couple of years ago.

The petitioners believe it’s just a matter of time when — not if — a tragic vehicle accident takes place that intersection, which has only one signal light to control traffic entering on and exiting from Route 58.

“Sure you cannot deny that it’s a safety hazard in this area,” Simmons told the board.

The text of the petition reads as follows:

“We, the undersigned, respectfully request your utmost attention and awareness, that the speed limit in the Southampton Parkway Commercial/Industrial Corridor is excessive and should be reduced. We can no longer sit idly by until someone is killed or more than one are killed or seriously injured because the Virginia Department of Transportation thinks moving transit vehicles through our area at excessive speeds is more important than the safety of those who live and work and travel though the main thoroughfare of Southampton County.

“We need no further traffic study because actions are revealing what your words do not say.

“We request without further ado that the speed limit be changed to 45 miles per hour.”

Copies of the petition have already been distributed in the community to collect signatures. When enough signatures have been collected, said Simmons, the documents will be sent to Charles Kilpatrick, the commissioner for the Virginia Department of Transportation.

To allow the speed limit to remain at 55 “also jeopardizes the health and safety of patrons,” she said.

“We have to do something differently in this corridor,” added Simmons. “We’ve got to be safe in order to make things grow here.”

Supervisor Bruce Phillips of the Capron District later said that the consulting firm Kimley-Horn has done a short-term safety evaluation for that area, and that it would be relatively inexpensive to put up signs warning drivers to be prepared to stop when the lights are flashing.He added that the signs would be similar to the ones on Route 58 and Pioneer Road in Suffolk nearby where an elementary school is located.

“That’s something that we could do,” Phillips said. “I have asked for this multiple times.”

Later, VDOT representative Joe Lomax touched on the matter to say that the there’s no truth to any rumor that the signal light at the Food Lion intersection would be taken down. But, he added that the light at the Parkway intersection at Jerusalem Road would  come down for the interchange, which is in progress.

Simmons is concerned that with only one light ahead, there’s nothing to break the speed of truckers and other vehicles coming from 58 West.