Occasionally on The 12 Angry Men, we will post rants from invited guests. In lieu of our normally scheduled segment, today we feature an invited rant, from an Angry Guest Woman. You may remember our current guest from her previous appearence when she ranted about poor service, and tipping. This time the issue which has our guest up in arms is the traffic situation in Virginia’s most populated region.
– The Staff of The 12 Angry Men
I have recently had the unfortunate displeasure of spending an extended amount of time in the region of Virginia known as Hampton Roads. I find this name especially puzzling because the most distinguishing characteristic of the area is the distinct lack of roads! (To be fair, the “Hampton” part of the name is confusing as well. Hampton is just one of the collection of loosely-defined interlocking regions of suburban decay … er … sprawl … er … “communities” which call themselves “cities” yet in no way resemble actual cities. As far as I can tell, the area names Hampton because it is roughly in the middle.) I personally think the region should be renamed “Suburban Waterways” because it is as well-characterized by its myriad of waterways as it is by its distinct lack of places to cross them.
Truthfully, there is exactly one road in Hampton Roads and it is called I-64. For any two points A and B in Hampton Roads, unless A and B happen to be located within the same strip mall, you pretty much have to take I-64 to get between them. I must also mention here that I-64 is only very loosely a road itself. Throughout half of Hampton Roads (the half called “the Peninsula”) I-64 is only 2 lanes in each direction and at any given time, at least one lane in each direction is closed for “construction.” Because of all of this “construction,” I-64 is not so much a road and more of a ragged, flooding, hodgepodge of potholes and badly misaligned patches of asphalt with worse traffic backups than occur on real roads (the kind that actually have street-lights and connected regions of pavement to allow cars to drive effectively on them). I grew up in Washington, D.C. and have spent a significant chunk of my adult life living in America’s fourth largest city, Houston, and I can safely assert that the traffic in these two cities pales in comparison to traffic in Hampton Roads. This is not because Hampton Roads has anywhere near the number of people or cars or places to go but simply because Hampton Roads has no… roads! If there is a backup in any real city, there is always at least one other road connected to the road on which you are currently located. In a real city, you can then turn off onto this road and continue driving. Your route may be farther out of your way but at least it is possible to *move* in some direction. In Hampton Roads, you are just stuck on I-64. There are very few exits and most of these lead right back onto you guessed it I-64, usually by way of a strip mall and a waterway or four.
It has recently occurred to the residents of Hampton Roads that, perhaps, maybe, they should consider building more roads. There was a bill proposed and voted upon this week to establish a local transportation authority which would commit to widening and fixing I-64 and adding more ways to cross the local waterways. Surprisingly, this was a highly controversial proposal! The bill narrowly passed after a 3-2 vote by the 5 members of Isle of Wight board of supervisors. Ironically, the “city” of Hampton voted “no” and plans to appeal the decision. It seems the local residents prefer the region’s name, “Hampton Roads” to be more ironic than descriptive.
– Angry East Coast Guest Woman