Sophia Street runs through Fredericksburg's Historic District.

Lower Speeds, Higher Fines Recommended for Historic District

by | Dec 13, 2014 | Columns, Opinion

An editorial by Fredericksburg resident Mickey Wiesner

A poor little dog died Sunday morning July 26.  He was run over on Sophia Street right in front the house where he lived, near the parking garage in the Historic District.

The driver of the truck who hit him slowed down after, but sped away like any coward would. He is certainly partially to blame but, in my opinion, the City of Fredericksburg is mostly responsible.

People simply do not respect downtown anymore. People from the counties come to town for events, like the Christmas Parade, trash the place, and then leave.

Commuters and other drivers fly through the city — which, for people who live downtown, is our neighborhood, not a through way to and from I-95 — going well above the 25 m.p.h. speed limit. On any given day, at any given time, you can find someone doing at least 40 down Sophia or Caroline Streets, two heavily populated streets full of apartments, businesses, pedestrians, tourists, families and parks for their pets and children to enjoy. Although, anymore, we can’t enjoy them because it’s just not safe.

The City doesn’t seem to care. They do a horrible job policing these areas and holding people responsible for any wrongdoings. This poor dog lost its life, and every day there’s an almost-tragic disaster where a car narrowly misses someone in a crosswalk, because of these drivers’ and this City’s irresponsibility and carelessness.

That poor family now has a blood soaked patch of road as a stark reminder of Fredericksburg’s refusal to commit to creating a safe community and, therefore, as the father of this family stated, “a place of worry every time my kids even get on a bicycle.” Is that what it will take for positive change and accountability? Will we really have to wait for a child’s life to be ended too soon for Fredericksburg to act? I certainly hope not.

Maybe, if you’d be willing to help, we can call attention to this ever-increasing problem, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll avoid such a disaster.

I was thinking we could start a petition for a comprehensive health and safety plan for the downtown area including:

More police speed traps on Sophia and Caroline Streets.
An increase in fines for speeding tickets and littering in the troubled areas, including Princess Anne, George and William Streets.
An increase of the speed limit on certain streets to 15 or 20 maximum. People will freak out at that, but there’s simply no reason to drive fast through a heavily populated area.
A blueprint for a walkable mall on Caroline Street, thus encouraging our town becoming a pedestrian friendly place.
Signs at the entrances to downtown at Lafayette Blvd., Rt. 2, Chatham Bridge, Princess Anne off of Rt. 1. etc., saying Fredericksburg is committed to maintaining a healthy and safe area for its residents, businesses and visitors by developing a pedestrian friendly downtown.
Better and more public transportation.
More speed limit signs.
Signs reminding drivers to watch out for families, children and pets.
Maybe speed bumps.

Our city leaders should look at other locations across the country which have successfully transitioned to more pedestrian areas and see what works.  Obviously, there’s a lot more we could do, and this is asking a lot, but this town needs it.

Changes would increase overall health and safety and eventually increase revenue for businesses. It’s win-win to me.

Bottom line: The city needs to stop caring so much about new courthouses, million dollar condos, and increased property values for its property owners and start caring more about revitalizing a struggling downtown area in a safe, healthy and efficient manner.

I imagine anyone who’s walked downtown in the last couple years has experienced what I’m talking about and would agree.

Other recent op-eds:

Do We Value Our Historic Landscape?

Community Eligibility Could Help Original Walker-Grant Elementary

Envision New Markets: Updating the Fredericksburg Comprehensive Plan

Editor’s Note:  Op-Eds are printed as a service to the community and may not necessarily represent the views of Fredericksburg.Today.  Anyone may submit an editorial.  Simply email the content in plain text format to [email protected].  The editor reserves the right to publish or not.

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