EDITORIAL: Drop the Speed Limit to 45
A CAPE CHARLES WAVE EDITORIAL
July 21, 2014
How many more people have to die, how many more vehicles must be destroyed, how many more close calls must there be before VDOT awakes to the deadly danger of Route 13 north and south of the Cape Charles traffic light? If Route 13 is Virginia’s most dangerous highway, we will nominate the Cape Charles/Cheriton area as the most dangerous patch of it.
The traffic light itself is not the problem so much as the multiple turnoffs mostly south of the light. Two of our neighbors had their cars totaled in the past few years — one trying to cross the highway to get to the Corner Mart, the other a victim of someone pulling out from McDonald’s directly in front of her.
Last week we saw something new and scary: a full-size charter bus leaving McDonald’s was trying to turn left onto Route 13. Judging by the line of cars behind the bus, the driver had to wait a long time for a break in the traffic.
Why does the speed limit drop to 45 mph on the bypass around Exmore but not in the Cape Charles/Cheriton area? The danger here is arguably worse than in Exmore (which funds their entire Police budget from speeding tickets).
Our most recent heart-stopper (and the inspiration for this editorial) came from waiting in the left-hand lane on 13 to turn onto Stone Road. An 18-wheeler roared past at full speed only a few feet away, violently shaking our stopped van in the jet stream. We were literally “sitting ducks.” And as everyone knows, a 55 mph limit means it is your God-given right (and duty) to drive 60 — and this trucker was doing his duty.
At least we were encased in a two-ton van; pity the pedestrian who tries to navigate that death-trap. Earl Wayne Spady was hit by a truck last month while trying to cross Route 13 on foot at night. May he rest in peace.
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Across the state line in Maryland, Route 13 has warning signs above the road in advance of traffic lights. The signs flash to tell you if the light will be red by the time you get to it so you know to slow down. It the signs are not flashing, you can maintain speed approaching the intersection. VDOT seems unaware of such signs.
The biggest problem is that the Food Lion shopping center has no service road connecting it to South Bayside Road, where the traffic light is. County Supervisor Granville Hogg says he has appealed to VDOT for years but to no avail. Presumably the deal breaker is the railroad track, which would cross the service road and require cross arms and lights, all for the one or two trains a week (month?) using that spur.
With no service road, it is inexcusable for VDOT not to recognize the imperative of reduced speed. At the very, very least, they could erect yellow diamond signs with 45 mph limits.
With the death of Earl Wayne Spady, maybe someone at VDOT would listen to a request from the county or Cape Charles or Cheriton — or all three. VDOT was quick to respond when someone complained about political signs on the state right-of-way.
Or is “full speed ahead” more important to our state officials?