Editorial: The Route 60 dilemma; not just about the road conditions
First, let me preference this by saying this article is not about the condition of Route 60 (Pocahontas Trail) in New Kent. Those who travel that road already know and understand that it is need of major repairs and paving. Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) already knows that as well and has started implementing a plan for future work on the road.
Instead, I want to focus on the importance of Route 60 itself and the impact it has on citizens. The real concern comes when Interstate 64 in New Kent becomes a parking lot. In the past before cell phones, GPS, and electronic maps, Route 60 was a way to bypass all of the traffic on the interstate. But as attention turned to the widening the interstates, New Kent’s portion of the highway was deemed appropriate to remain a two-lane highway.
But as we’ve seen in past years, the interstate between mile markers 204 and 224 has been a hotbed for accidents. Casual conversations with New Kent Fire Chief Rick Opett and New Kent County Sheriff J. Joe McLaughlin Jr. echo the number of response calls on the highway and the effects it has on county resources.
Now, smart devices and phone applications have the capability of redirecting traffic in real time. And where does that traffic head? Route 60. While the issue isn’t as problematic now, during summer hours, traffic on Route 60 was backed up bumper-to-bumper. On one day during the summer, all I wanted to do is pick up a pizza for lunch. But with the Interstate jammed, a 15-minute drive for me could have turned into a one-hour drive. Fortunately, my familiarity with the area allowed me to navigate back roads to get my eight-slice delight.
After that traffic leaves and returns to the interstate, Route 60 is left in a more riddled condition than it was before. The road takes more punishment on top of what damage it suffers due to everyday travel.
In conclusion, Route 60 has been a thoroughfare for local and non-local traffic since the days it didn’t have traffic lights (yes my young drivers, there were days when Route 60 had no traffic lights). Citizens and everyday travelers will be more than happy once Route 60 becomes a more comfortable ride and Interstate 64 finally gets the expansion where it is needed the most; in New Kent County.