Petitioners ask for help in lowering speed limit

Published 10:22 am Monday, April 17, 2017

During the public comment period of the Planning Commission on Thursday, a request was made for the commissioners to support efforts of lowering the speed limit on Southampton Parkway (Route 58) where several businesses are located on either side of the highway.

The speakers were Jane Riddick Fries, Linda Simmons and Lynda Updike, who are among the people who believe the 55 mph limit should be reduced 45 mph. They have been circulating a petition that will eventually go to Charles Kilpatrick, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Their concerns are two-fold: safety and business.

There is only one traffic light where the Courtland interchange is being built, and that is expected to be taken down when the road project is completed. The other is in the vicinity of Storys Station Road and the Agripark Drive where a Food Lion, Hardee’s, a service station and a suite of businesses are situated.

The petitioners said they’ve seen and heard of many near-misses where vehicles have nearly collided at the latter intersection because of traveling at least 55 mph; Fries said the estimate is 61 mph. She added that a study done in 2012 estimates 22,000 vehicles travel that area daily. The 2036 estimate doubles that number.

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

Fries, owner of The Peanut Patch and Feridies, said that her business and others are also feeling an effect.

“Customers are bypassing us. Drivers don’t feel safe going in or coming out for fear of being rear-ended,” she said.

Fries requested the panel’s support in the same of safety and for businesses, patrons and children. She said so far that over 800 signature have been collected.

Simmons said that doing nothing will lead to decline and closure of businesses and fewer people to live  or shop in the area.

We need to act before it’s too late,” Updike succinctly said. “I want us to have no regrets.”

Following discussion, the panel agreed to revisit the issue next month before drafting any formal recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.