What's In A Name?

It seems all of our transportation problems have been solved by the stroke of the almighty pen! Get ready for the Patriots Crossing, coming soon to a toll road near you.

What was the much-maligned third crossing has been paired down and renamed in the spirit of the last decade’s habit of naming things in vaguely patriotic ways, thus making it impossible for real Americans to question the thing’s existence. While the Patriots Crossing will redirect some traffic from the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, it doesn’t even begin to address the need for additional lanes that actually cross the harbor. That’s right—the plan has no new tunnel construction that actually crosses anything. It instead creates a new way to get from I-64 to I-664 on the Southside. It’s cheaper but not by all that much. The Patriots Crossing is estimated to cost $2.5 billion, and expanding the HRBT would be about $3.5 billion.

By cleverly giving a once-rejected plan a vaguely patriotic name, VDOT has done something quite impressive. It has distracted us from the fact that Hampton Roads contains four of the commonwealth’s 10 most needed road projects, according to TRIP, a nonprofit national transportation research group: expanding the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, widening I-64 between Hampton and New Kent County, constructing a third crossing and widening I-64 in Chesapeake and replacing the High-Rise Bridge. All these projects are needed to sustain the economic growth of both Hampton Roads and all of Virginia.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too hard on VDOT. Maybe renaming the third crossing is a good start. So, in the spirit of the Patriots Crossing, I would like to propose updating the names of some other needs that exist in Hampton Roads, both transportation- related and otherwise.

The Freedom Fund: The Freedom Fund will make all things equal. After all, America was founded on equality. We must rename the gas tax now. No one likes taxes, but everyone loves freedom (except our enemies who hate our freedom). From now on, our freedom fund should be equal to an average of those in our neighbor states, both to the north and the south. By creating this equality among states, we assert that states have the right to raise money equally. This can help fund the Patriots Crossing as well as many other projects.

Sea to Shining Sea Initiative: Let’s step up our efforts in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and the glorious waterways of Hampton Roads. By evoking “America the Beautiful” we remind ourselves that our country was actually founded here, because of these sacred waters, and polluting them just dumps garbage on the souls of our forefathers.

Liberty Freeway: That’s a much better name for the much needed Southwesterncorridor linking Hampton Roads and our port to the economically booming Sun Belt. Don’t forget that more than a century ago, when Americans sought a better life, they headed west and southwest to today’s Sun Belt and beyond. They did not migrate to the Yankee Rust Belt.

America’s Harborside: We can ignore or tear down Waterside, but we must preserve America’s Harborside. Who wants to tear down America? Who wants to let America disintegrate? Instead, we must reenvision this landmark and make it gleam once again, providing its bounty to the generations of the future.

Protecting Pride: We must protect our pride and heritage, as it is often under continual assault and attack. Our historic landmarks are being destroyed to make way for condos with French balconies. Long established small businesses are being displaced by over-reaching governmentassisted programs at the Oceanfront. And it’s becoming harder for the caretakers of our fruitful plains to protect the lands from encroachment.

United We Stand Hampton Roads: Regionalism leaves a bad taste in many of the mouths of our city and county leaders because it often means working together. So, why not gloss over the “working” part and focus on the “together” part? By presenting a United front to the rest of the state, many of the things on this list will be accomplished.

Perhaps by renaming our priorities, we’re also taking a closer look at what they actually are. I know I’ve been a bit satirical today, but we have real needs in Hampton Roads, and it’s time to wake up by the dawn’s early light and address them, no matter their names.

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