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Traffic woes aired in Halifax

SoVaNow.com / October 22, 2020
Town of Halifax residents turned out for Tuesday’s meeting of Town Council to complain about loud traffic and unsafe conditions for pedestrians on Main Street.

Nearly a dozen speakers urged the Town to tamp down on tractor trailer rigs, speeding vehicles and other traffic offenders that are annoyances at best and hazards at worst, they told Council members.

“I cannot enjoy being outside or entertaining guests due to the loud vehicles,” said Tim Hudgins, one of several Main Street residents who spoke at the meeting. “Many are unable to sleep at night and those who are sick can’t rest.”

He presented a petition signed by 27 residents asking Council to take action to rein in nuisance traffic on Main Street, by having Town Police make more traffic stops and installing new signage and speed bumps. Hudgins, who owns a decibel reader, said he has measured noises of up to 100 decibels on Main Street.

“I have recorded trucks breaking a 100 decibel level from jake braking,” he said, describing the sound — similar to the firing of a gun — when a heavy-duty diesel truck hits the compression release brake. Tractor trailers typically use the jake break on steep slopes to extend the life of their friction brakes.

“I know big rigs and jake braking is not needed to come through town,” he said.

Town Council has been working with VDOT to create more pedestrian crossings on Main Street and reconfigure parking and traffic around the expanded Courthouse complex. As if to underscore the need to do something about traffic problems on Main Street, Tuesday’s meeting was punctuated by several tractor trailers rumbling past Town Hall, causing the windows to shake and rattle.

Mayor Dexter Gilliam assured residents that Town Council is aware of the problem. “I’m an early riser and while outside jogging in the mornings, I agree there are numerous loud tractor trailers coming down Mountain Road and I can hear them as they approach the stoplight at Main Street,” he said.

The Halifax Police Department does not have such equipment to test decibel levels of passing vehicles. Council member Mike Trent inquired if this technology would be of use to the police force.

“We do not have this equipment, nor does anyone in the area that I know of,” said Halifax Police Chief Stuart Comer.

With the police department stationed inside Town Hall, Comer said he, too, experiences the volume of heavy traffic through town.

“The vibrations from these trucks will cause items to bounce across my desk,” he said.

Town code would have to be revised to create an enforceable maximum decibel level for traffic noises, Comer said. Past attempts to rein in offending motorists haven’t stuck. “I was told from a previous judge, what’s loud to you, may not be loud to others.”

Residents offered a string of accounts describing how their lives have been worsened by loud traffic on Main Street.

“I can’t sit on my front porch and have a conversation on the phone. My wife has called H&M Logging and things will be better for a few weeks, then it starts right back up again,” said Craig Lawford.

Randy Comer, who lives across from White Oak Primary Care, formerly the office of Dr. Francis “Bunny” Mitchell on Main Street, has three children and fears for them playing outside.

“The vehicles are going so fast as they pop up over the knoll, there is no time to react,” said Comer, who added that he lives in a residential neighborhood.

Another resident spoke about the dangers of using town crosswalks.

“As I stopped for a pedestrian at the crosswalk, a car flew around me, stopping the person from making their way to the other side of the road,” said Aaron Kelly.

Comer agreed there is a lack of respect for pedestrians using the crosswalks and shared his own example.

“I stood at the crosswalk waiting to cross, a vehicle failed to stop. As I approached the driver, I was told since I didn’t step out in the road, they were unsure if I was counting cars or if I was trying to cross the street,” said Comer.

Gilliam assured the audience that work is underway to make the town’s crosswalks more visible. The Town is collaborating with VDOT on traffic studies and the Here’s Halifax committee is also working on a plan for controlling downtown traffic.

Council members agreed Tuesday to spend $16,000 on a downtown parking and pedestrian connection, using unspent funds in the Town’s Turning Scale Radius project. Also, the Halifax Police Department has received a $1,500 pedestrian safety grant from DMV to help pay overtime hours for police to step up traffic enforcement efforts on Main Street.



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Comments

NIOSH has a noise level app you can install on any cell phone. It reads very close to the calibrated machines we use in the workplace.

Comments

Mr. Hudgins may know big rigs but with pedestrian crosswalks and all the foot and vehicle traffic on the tiny narrow streets of Main Street would he want a death on his watch because a trucker was afraid to use his Jake Brake?! Sorry sir but you're not the operator of said truck and do not have to make a life or death split second decision. Additionally, ANY noise ordinance governing vibrations and noise from the regular operation of a motor vehicle would be ILLEGAL and totally unenforceable. Mr. Comer has already stated what a Judge has said about the topic. The only solution would be a by-pass around the Town itself. You cannot restrict truckers from being cautious and using their brakes which were put there for a reason or from using the public highway to get from point A to Point B unless you give them a proper truck route.

Comments

More crybabies that live in the town. I am sorry, you can't tell if someone wants to cross the street or not. I stopped once and almost got rear ended. The person, turned around and went the other way and did not cross the street. It is hwy 501 a main highway, if you don't like it then move!

Comments

allpolitical you complain about plenty - democrats, carpetbaggers, hemp farmers, people rights, masks, covid on & on & on why dont you move if u dont like it? Beat it

Comments

Sorry, I am staying, My family has been in this area since before Halifax County was a county. I am sick of people moving here an wanting to change things. IF you want to live here accept it the way it is, if not get out. Thank god my sons will continue the farm. What are all you service people going to do, when the farmers are all gone? Where will you get your food? If you want to wear a mask fine, but don't make me. Covid is a new flu that we got to learn to live with. Demorats are evil. Keep voting for them and we will be back to 5-6 a gallon gas. So you beat it. Sounds like you are one of the people that I don't want in my county.


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