CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — “She was outgoing, she was adventurous, she was very well liked,” said Larry Jansen about his niece, Shelby Blevins.
On July 20, the 24-year-old was making her way into work at BJ’s Wholesale when she was involved in a deadly crash.
“We had heard there was an accident out here,” said Jansen. “Her mother got to the police station … they confirmed that she was killed in a accident with a tractor-trailer crossing Snowden Avenue. We honestly believe that they’ve gotta issue out here with traffic.”
Shelby’s uncle believes that issue is the primary reason for two nearly identical deadly accidents here at US-58 and Snowden Avenue. Specifically, the median that semi-truck drivers stop on. Before Shelby’s crash, Virginia State Police say 78-year-old Pyong Chang was driving on US-58 when he collided with a semi-truck driver who was pulling out into the median, just like Shelby’s crash.
To put it simply, Jansen says the Snowden Avenue median isn’t long enough for tractor trailers to stop without sticking out into the roadway.
“I’ve measured it, I’ve documented it,” Jansen explained showing images of trailers obstructing traffic. “You’re coming back from Florida on a 12-hour drive, all of a sudden a tractor-trailer stops in your lane … he’s stopping there because he has to. So they’ve got a problem here.”
I caught up with the City of Chesapeake to learn if anything could be done to improve the median and learned there were already plans in the works to close it completely.
One plan, spearheaded by VDOT, could be approved as early as October. Until that can be done, there aren’t any temporary measures the city is taking to deter traffic, but Shelby’s uncle offers an easy detour for drivers to use.
He says taking 460 to US-58 west keeps you from having to use this median. Ultimately, Jansen and other family members know the safest choice in the end is closing the median all together.
“It means a lot to us to have this change for Shelby. Nobody else needs to die here.”
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