RIC: Richmond’s Newest Game of Chance

September 5, 2008

By Karen

Did you know there’s legalized gambling right at Richmond International Airport? Here’s how you play:

Drive with the flow of traffic and get a speeding ticket, or obey posted speeds and risk getting rear-ended.

It’s a lose-lose proposition where the “house” always wins, but some gamblers enjoy that.

At Henrico County traffic court yesterday, the dedicated police officer who cited me recently for speeding (41 mph) at RIC had collected a room full of miscreants. He laid us all out before the judge like a fisherman displaying his prized catch of the day – worth $66 a head in court costs alone.

The charges weren’t always read, but I heard “Airport Drive” mentioned enough to realize that many of us had been caught in the same trap.

The judge was pretty good about reducing charges, but he didn’t seem interested in hearing any defense, so everyone was just pleading guilty and hoping for the best.

I’ve driven to the airport twice since the ticket. If you haven’t been there lately, be warned that the incoming speed limit on Airport Drive drops abruptly from 45 to 25. That’s when the game starts, and you have to play. The grounds continue to be a messy, unpredictable work in progress, so you can’t tell where the “dealer” in an unmarked car might be lurking.

If you obey the rules, you’ll frustrate other drivers who don’t realize you’re just trying not to lose. They’ll tailgate or pass you – probably while spouting words you’d rather not hear.

Approaching the terminal building, the speed limit drops to 15. At that point, you might be tempted to pull over, get out, and crawl the rest of the way because you’ll get there faster – but don’t. They’ll probably ticket you for that, too.


RIC Airport Ruined 35 Years of Perfect Driving

July 29, 2008

By Karen

RIC Airport looks like new, but I wouldn’t call a bogus speed trap on its most baffling stretch of road an improvement.

The chic décor inside implies that Richmond is a welcoming, cosmopolitan place – but just get in your car and they’ll fleece you like you’re in Podunk, Nowhere.

My tale started last Friday when a weekend houseguest flew into RIC. Using the free 30 minutes of parking in the hourly lot, I met him in the terminal.

Leaving, we got stuck behind Mr. Pokey-Pants at the checkout gate, who dragged out my visit to exactly 31 minutes. The gatekeeper knew I was there on time, but she charged me $2 for that ONE extra minute anyway.

Petty, annoying, and unnecessary. But little did I know it could get worse. Much worse.

On Monday at noon, I returned to drop my guest off. On the straight, 2-lane stretch entering the airport with no other traffic in sight, I was cruising toward the terminal, trying to read the myriad conflicting, confusing signs that point in every direction and seem to change with every visit.

Suddenly, an unmarked black car pulled up behind me, lights flashing, and I got a ticket for doing 41 mph in a 25 mph “work zone.”

BUT NO WORK WAS BEING DONE.

The officer’s demeanor over my “crime” was so grave, you’d think he’d seen body parts hanging out of my trunk.

The speed limit on that same road leaving the airport is 45 mph.

So 3 ½ decades of clean driving are down the toilet and I now have a court date – that’s my thanks for bringing business to RIC.


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