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Traffic woes will take toll
Traffic congestion has become a local embarrassment.

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Date published: 5/18/2003


WHEN OUT-OF-TOWN com- pany arrives for a visit, it can be a special time. Laying eyes on family and friends you haven't seen in a long time should be refreshing for the soul.

But when company arrives at our house, they say things like, "How can you stand to live here?"

They're not mean or impolite by nature, they're just venting after having spent twice as long on the road as they should have.

The short answer to their question is that because we live here, we don't have to travel here. But we do have to travel away on occasion, and then travel back, so we know exactly what they're talking about.

I never thought that I would be embarrassed by where I live, but at those moments when company arrives late and frazzled, I am. Around here, the old adage works backwards: It's a nice place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit here. How's that for a tourism slogan?

But even the "nice place to live" part is becoming suspect.

Once you live here, or anywhere else for that matter, you learn to live with local traffic snarls. But other places don't seem to have intersections like State Route 3 and Carl D. Silver Parkway. How long before something really bad happens as eastbound traffic waiting to turn left into Central Park backs up into the fast lane of Route 3? The answer, the Virginia Department of Transportation acknowledges, is a pair of "flyovers" into Spotsylvania Mall and Central Park. Those would require city/county/state cooperation, and a lot of money. So they won't happen soon.

And then there's U.S. 1, U.S. 17, and Butler Road in Falmouth. Why that intersection has been ignored for so long is among the great mysteries of life here. VDOT's brand-new six-year plan sets aside money--for right-of-ways and additional study.

So we try to find our way around such choke points, or time our trips to avoid the congestion. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and deal with it.

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