I hope this email finds everyone doing well. February was a robust month with the final meeting of the Hampton Blvd. Traffic Task Force, meeting with constituents on a variety of issues, speaking to civic leagues, and attending the City Council winter retreat.
The final meeting of the Hampton Blvd. Traffic Task Force took place on February 7 where many recommendations were considered. For those who live outside of Hampton Roads, Hampton Blvd. is, literally, a state highway located in Norfolk that connects the Naval Station Norfolk to the Midtown Tunnel (connecting Norfolk to Portsmouth). Traffic on this road includes all of the following —Naval Station Norfolk, Port of Virginia, Norfolk International Terminals, Old Dominion University, several major neighborhoods, retail/commercial businesses, a major medical campus, and much more. It is a busy road to say the least. The Task Force’s mission was to make Hampton Blvd. safer. The recommendations made achieved a balance between enhanced safety and the need to move all of this traffic efficiently along this major artery. To make this goal, we sought input from all involved.
During this final meeting, a compilation of the traffic data was presented. Final recommendations were made including 16 traffic calming solutions that will make Hampton Blvd. safer for vehicles and people. Some solutions include allowing drivers to take a left only with a green arrow; reducing school zone speed limit from 25 to 15: upgrading traffic signals; implementing no turns on red at some intersections; introducing new pedestrian crossings at some intersections; keeping red lights longer in all directions to allow for more time for the pedestrian to cross the street; implementing red light cameras; continuing the zero tolerance for speeding; retiming traffic signals; and more.
Largely as a result of feedback received during our outreach to the numerous civic leagues involved, we did not recommend reducing lanes from three to two in a section of Hampton Blvd. There was substantial resident push back for good reason on this lane reduction and we heard you. I emphasize this because it is how I believe city government should function. Listening is imperative. Reducing the lanes was never “already decided” nor a “done deal” like many thought. We said we would listen and we did. The already planned resurfacing project will take place in this area in the coming months.
I am very thankful for the community partners who made this Task Force a success. The Navy, Old Dominion University, trucking and maritime industry, Port of Virginia, Eastern Virginia Medical Campus, and area civic leagues all actively participated. While we accomplished much, there are still next steps that we are tackling. We met with the Navy recently to explore future partnerships and collaboration. The Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization will conduct a study of the Hampton Blvd. corridor beginning in July 2019. Further collaboration with the Port of Virginia will take place. Hopefully, this will serve as a model for enhanced safety where it is needed in other parts of Norfolk.
All in all, it was a great experience and I am thankful for the tireless work of the city folks who worked on this effort and for the very committed community engagement from the Task Force members.
So, what else happened in February? Norfolk City Council had a winter retreat where we had productive discussions on the St. Paul’s revitalization initiative, regional economic outlook, stormwater, inclusion and diversity, Chrysler Hall transformation, and a budget update.
I enjoyed the opportunity to speak at the Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association monthly luncheon and at various civic leagues.
I look forward to spring time…March Madness, the Masters, warm weather, daylight savings, leaves on the trees, green grass, and relaxing on the front porch with neighbors.