VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The plan was for the City of Virginia Beach to complete improvements to the intersection of a teen’s tragic crash by December, but then they had a tragedy of their own.
When a city engineer shot and killed 12 people and seriously hurt four others at Building 2 at the city’s Municipal Center, they essentially halted the progress citywide.
“People have got to understand that we are getting to everything as fast as we can, but we are short-handed and everything has changed,” said Drew Lankford, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works.
It’s a fact that has been particularly hard to swallow for family and friends of Sedonia Triepel, 17, who suffered major injuries from a car crash that happened on December 19, 2018, on North Great Neck Road, where it meets River Road in Virginia Beach.
“The city promised to do something, to make something safer, and it hasn’t happened,” said Dr. Carrie Triepel, Sedonia’s mother.
In the weeks following the crash, the City of Virginia Beach informed the community that a project to improve the intersection would indeed be coming. $250,000 would install two offset left turn lanes to help with viability on the busy roadway.
“Our goal would be to deliver by the end of the year,” City Engineer Phil Pullen said in an email to Public Works Director Mark Johnson back in January.
Then came May 31.
“We’re down a lot of employees … there were a couple of stormwater issues with this and we had three of our stormwater people murdered. And it’s just a ripple effect,” Lankford said. “We understand the community has moved on in a lot of ways … but everyday we have to deal with it.”
One of the project’s contractors also had issues that contributed to the delay, Lankford said.
Those issues are now worked out, and Lankford said starting Friday, construction barrels are scheduled to be set out ahead of eventual construction on January 2. The project is expected to take 45 days.
“It’s a start,” Triepel said, upon hearing the news. “But I still want a full comprehensive look.”
Triepel said there needs to also be a reduction in the speed limit and enhancements made to the crosswalks before the intersection is truly safe. Sedonia has undergone 23 surgeries in the last 365 days, and Triepel wants no other family to experience that.
“And making this intersection safer is key,” Triepel said.
When asked about the mass shooting’s impact on the project, Triepel said it only adds to her sadness.
“It’s just that — the whole thing is just sad.”