VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Monday night, the Sandbridge Civic League met and once again voiced concerns about the safety of Sandbridge Road.
“I’ve lived here for 37 years, and my wife and I have had two near misses,” said Sandbridge resident Frank Meyer.
Tuesday, Director of Public Works Phil Davenport told WAVY.com one change was made to Sandbridge Road by 2:30 p.m. the day before. It was brought to his attention that a 45mph sign near an “S” turn was confusing motorists, because that “S” turn cautionary sign said to travel 35mph. That 45mph sign was removed, extending the 35mph speed limit from Sandbridge to Seibert Realty.
“The phone call I got [Monday] morning was from one of the residents of Sandbridge,” Davenport explained. “They did not understand why the sign was where it was.”
Davenport said the change was made due to the heightened awareness of the roadway following last week’s deadly crash, but wasn’t a direct result of the crash.
For the last week, the crash that killed a woman and three children has dominated the conversation in the beachfront community — so much so that the regularly scheduled civic league meeting took a back seat to discussion on how to improve Sandbridge Road.
“It’s particularly difficult, because this was the third fatal accident in the Princess Anne District in three weeks,” added Virginia Beach City Councilwoman Barbara Henley.
Last week’s horrific crash has sparked another wave of residents asking for change.
“The problem is the city built all these other housing developments around us and where does everyone come to the beach?” Meyer asked. “They come to Sandbridge.”
Most residents at the meeting want to see Nimmo Parkway extended. It’s an idea that has been talked about for decades. They also are asking for city officials to widen Sandbridge Road, which is full of narrow twists and turns. Right now, it is the only public road to get to the beach.
Several residents spoke in opposition to the plan, saying if Nimmo Parkway was extended it would hurt the environment. The path that it would need would run right through protected wetlands.
“The way I feel about Nimmo Parkway, it needs to go through and it can’t be soon enough,” Ken Saiya said. “I’m going to tell you a story about the most horrific day of my life.”
Saiya isn’t as worried about the wetlands. He was driving behind one of the vehicles involved in the crash last week and saw images he will never forget.
“When you’re pulling children out of a car that you know in your heart are going to die, nobody should have to experience that,” Saiya added.
The city has said right now the money for rural roads just isn’t there. In the past, the city would get federal funds for improvements, but that money has dried up.
Still, residents are urging City Council to find the money, because they know it’s only a matter of time before another life is lost.