Hampton Roads / Local / Politics / Virginia

ICYMI: A frightening communication breakdown

My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Wednesday. I, like thousands of others, got hung up in traffic Saturday as the result of the boneheaded decision by VDOT to close two of the three crossings from the Peninsula to the south side of Hampton Roads

“I think we underestimated the impact of the multiple closures on the same weekend. That’s clear that we underestimated that,” said Charlie Kilpatrick, chief deputy commissioner for VDOT.

Um, yeah.

But what was even worse to me was the poor communication. VDOT apparently thinks we live in a much earlier time, when there was only limited media outlets – morning and afternoon newspapers plus three local TV stations – and everyone got their news from the same place. Sending a press release to those few outlets in days gone by would have been sufficient. Not today.

What if this had been an emergency, as opposed to just an inconvenience? I shudder to think about that.

Not only was there a failure to communicate, but also the signage was horrible. It’s no wonder that drivers missed them: although orange, they were quite small. As I wound my way back through Portsmouth on the trip home, I was grateful for my GPS, because the detour signs were almost unreadable.

One more thing:

Others wondered why one of the two northbound lanes on the James River Bridge and one of the two westbound lanes on the HRBT were not flipped, so each crossing still had one lane of traffic going each way. Grow said she did not know whether that scenario will be considered as planners evaluate the remaining schedule for the two projects, but she pointed out safety, traffic and other concerns with doing so.

Wait a minute. Are you telling me that VDOT hasn’t worked out a SAFE plan to use a single lane setup? I thought this was in place years ago! What, by the way, is safe about routing all traffic through a single crossing?

VDOT has some work to do. And it’s not just in maintaining the roads.

My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot on Wednesdays (unless something comes up, in which case it’s Thursdays). You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.

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