As the state continues to look for options to address safety issues along a dangerous stretch of U.S. 23, at Watergap, we hope planners will keep in mind all aspects of community life in their search for solutions.
Undoubtedly, finding a way to prevent the car crashes that frequently occur between Town Branch and the Route 80 interchange is the top priority. Nothing is more important than minimizing the potential for danger along that stretch of road that has already claimed too many lives and hurt too many people.
The second priority to saving lives is saving the ability to make a living. Floyd County must preserve its commercial areas, and it is obvious that stretch of highway is a key spot for locating future business and industry. There are precious few areas along the Floyd County section of U.S. 23 suitable for development, and the Watergap area is one of them. If at all possible, it must be preserved as such.
The final consideration is cost, and it remains secondary to the first two we listed. If the state narrows its options to two that will address the safety issues — one more affordable that will reduce the potential for development, and another, more expensive option that will save just as many lives while preserving the potential for commercial development — the more expensive option should outweigh the cheaper solution.
If there is no option that will improve safety along the highway without forsaking development, then that is a bitter pill that must be swallowed. Nothing is more important than saving lives. If, however, planners are able to find a way to make the highway safer while preserving the area’s development potential, cost should not preclude that option.
It would a shame if the state were to eliminate a key area for future growth, just for the sake of short-term savings.
— The Floyd County Times