42 days ago
To whom it may concern,
As I waited in traffic this morning, I had time to think more about the article “Commissary cut-through to close during morning rush” and the decision made to do just that. The longer I sat, the more I thought that this problem, and the subsequent back-up we were now all experiencing.
In the article, Staff Sergeant Hubauer of the Provost Marshall’s Accident Investigations Unit, cited safety and complaints as the main reasons for the closure. SSgt Hubauer stated, “The move is to prevent drivers stuck in the heavy morning traffic on Russell Road from cutting through the parking lot, bypassing traffic and getting back onto the road from Purvis Road.”
This is true. Many drivers, myself included, would choose to take a left turn from a designated turn lane into an area with a lower speed limit, subject ourselves to three additional traffic control devices (stop signs), and ultimately arrive at the same stop light we would have encountered had we continued directly down Russell Road from the South Gate.
What are we doing when we make this decision? Is it different than being stuck on I-95 when there is a traffic jam, taking an exit onto US-1, subjecting ourselves to a lower speed limit, additional traffic control devices, and then ultimately merging back onto I-95 after we’ve bypassed the congestion?
Of course, if we speed on US-1… if we run stop signs or red lights… we would naturally expect to be cited by local law enforcement, and rightfully so.
What the Commonwealth of Virginia has not done, is close down US-1 during periods of high volume on I-95 to force everyone to suffer equally. This is counterproductive to easing the traffic strain of I-95 and would dramatically impact the local economy which relies on commuters to stop in from time to time to get breakfast, coffee, or gas on their way to and from their destinations.
SSgt Hubauer goes on to say, “These drivers are also using the parking lot to evade a traffic signal, which is illegal.”
I wondered about this and ultimately called the Desk Sergeant’s line at the MCBQ Security Battalion who said that driving regulations on base are directly derived from Virginia Statutes. In this instance, “§ 46.2-833.1. Evasion of traffic control devices” states, “It shall be unlawful for the driver of any motor vehicle to drive off the roadway and onto or across any public or private property in order to evade any stop sign, yield sign, traffic light, or other traffic control device.”
But wait a second, SSgt Hubauer just said, “… bypassing traffic and getting back onto the road from Purvis Road.”
So the drivers are not evading any traffic signal. They are merely approaching the signal from a different angle. The fact is, if any driver wants to continue down Russell Road past the gas station, they MUST encounter that traffic signal as there is no road, parking lot, easement, or otherwise, that would allow a vehicle to avoid that intersection.
But what of the safety concerns regarding reckless driving by those going down that alternate route through the parking lot? Certainly. I would not disagree that we all need to do our part to drive safely and obey posted speed limits. Quite the contrary. I would count myself as one of the first to stand up to defend and encourage safe driving.
That aside, according to the article, these reckless acts have been just that… wreck-less. The hyperbole of, “You have pedestrians in the parking lot who have a reasonable expectation not to be struck down by a vehicle going 40 mph.” does nothing to help the situation.
Though, as we agree on the safety aspects, why are we not ticketing drivers who exceed the posted speed limit? Why are we not citing the drivers who run or avoid the stop signs? Isn’t THAT the logical response to an unsafe situation? Isn’t THIS the proper role of a traffic safety division?
Perhaps Base Safety doesn’t have the manpower to assign a vehicle to the parking lot during those hours to ensure drivers are obeying the laws. But wait, the article states, “Hubauer and his officers sat in an unmarked car from 6:45 to 8:15 every morning for a week, from Feb. 10 to 14” and “Especially the first week or so, we’ll be out there monitoring and trying to keep it as safe as possible.” So the officers were there and will continue to be there. Perhaps they can do more than “cringe”.
So what is the impact of the decision made, and how can it be fixed?
SSgt Hubauer admitted in the article that this move is an “inconvenience to employees of the commissary and the Marine Corps Marathon, as well as drivers stopping at McDonald’s or Starbucks, all of whom will now have to access the lot from Purvis Road.” He further states, “It’s going to have a significant impact on travel times.”
So in reaction to this situation, the decision was made to increase everyone’s commute time, and negatively impact the commercial establishments on base.
Moreover, we have now moved an additional “500-550 vehicles” into the traffic going straight to the Purvis Road traffic light, turning Russell Road itself into a parking lot, and increasing the likelihood of low speed crashes as drivers inch forward. Still again, the traffic is now stopping farther out onto US-1 as a result of the back-up, forcing cars to come to a standstill in the right hand lane as far back as the Quantico Corporate Center, now making our problem a problem for commuters outside MCBQ.
Relieve us from this. Open up the parking lot for fall-out traffic. Properly ticket those who break traffic laws. Ease our commute. Ease the additional strain and unsafe presence out onto US-1. Ease the economic impact on McDonalds, Starbucks, and the Gas Station. Be rational. Please.