Public Comments for: HB473 - Virginia Retirement System; employer contributions.
Last Name: Mellos Locality: The Plains, Fauquier

My family and I strongly support HB 630 and SB 747, which would allow speed cameras on Rte 17 between Marshall and Warrenton. This stretch of road is treacherous and deadly. We live at the intersection of Rte 17 and Old Tavern Rd (near Great Meadow). We must merge from our gravel road onto Rte 17 or cross Rte 17 every time we leave the house. The large volume of high speed traffic makes this a potentially deadly maneuver every day. My father was killed when he attempted to cross Rte 17 to have dinner with us. His car was T-boned, and flipped several times. He was airlifted by medivac helicopter to Fairfax Hospital, where he passed away after a week suffering in trauma intensive care. Our family is still devastated. It is difficult to appreciate how treacherous this stretch of road is unless you have daily experienced trying to merge with double-trailer tractor trailers and other vehicles that often travel in excess of 70 mph, and appear from just around the bend when you have little time to get up to speed. When we hear a helicopter in the distance, we tense up, and watch to see if it is a medivac chopper landing on Rte 17 to evacuate yet more accident victims. Several times, it has been. Several more times we have heard crashes from our house a mile away, and my sons ran over to make sure it was not their sister coming home from school. I have counted at least 5 deaths at that single intersection since about 2015. That is more than all the homicides in Fauquier County. Rte 17 is different than most roads. It is treacherous because it has two conflicting characters: it is a local rural road with numerous driveways and small roads intersecting on both sides. Large horse trailers merge on and off, and school buses stop to pick up and drop off children. It’s second character is effectively a major interstate highway, functioning similarly to I-95. (It is a thoroughfare for truckers and others to quickly access the inland port). It could be made less treacherous by consistent and thorough enforcement of reasonable speed limits via speed cameras. Rte 17 simply must be made safer. It is unconscionable to allow this level of death and injury to continue. I am generally opposed to speed cameras, having experienced seemingly unnecessary cameras in DC that, in my opinion, may have impeded rather than improved safe traffic flow. However, in this case, it is essential to reduce speed to improve safety on this deadly stretch of road, and speed cameras are the only consistently effective way to reduce speed and save lives on Rte 17. I respect and admire the difficult work that truckers do and appreciate their essential role in a healthy economy. I believe that these bills benefit truckers as well as the local residents that share Rte 17. Truckers may not be aware of the many driveways and roads that intersect Rte 17. I don’t think that even a very capable, experienced truck driver would necessarily expect a high volume of slower-moving local traffic on a road that effectively functions as an interstate. I think it’s an unusual and unexpected combination of uses, and therefore, speed cameras would help truckers to be safer, which is one of their main priorities. Please enact these bills so that we can reduce deaths and injuries on this treacherous stretch of roadway.

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