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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Virginia Beach Light Rail Study

Progress is continuing on the Tide. The Virginian Pilot reports that the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization has set aside half of the $3 million required for an in-depth study to explore the costs of expanding the light rail line all the way to the Beach and to the Norfolk Naval Station. This is a great step towards a regional system. Despite the larger cost of the Norfolk segment, Virginia Beach should not worry about that for their section. Most of Norfolk's cost increases are the result of poor planning originally: not getting NSU's final thoughts on the design as well as the unknowns associated with downtown construction. Half of Norfolk's line is being constructed from scratch in a Downtown setting and/or elevated. If you have ever watched construction downtown, you would know that anything can happen. Because there was so much construction before building standards were put in place, there are many unknown utility lines underground, some of which are abandoned and others which are still in use. There are also multiple layers of roadway, from the asphalt on top, then concrete, then multiple layers of gravel and cobblestones, and old trolley tracks. Norfolk also has a multitude of bridges that need to be constructed for the light rail. On top of that, nobody in our area had any experience building or planning a light rail system. By the time Virginia Beach starts building their line, HRT will have that experience. They have already brought in outside experts to clean up the project. Virginia Beach will get the good end of the deal. They will get an experienced staff as well as a completely straight line to build the extension down. I do believe that, according to the original plan, the only special part of the line would be an elevated section over Independence Blvd. With the right combination of parking along the route, Virginia Beach could benefit very much. VA Beach residents who work in Norfolk could ride it down on workdays, making interstate traffic lighter. On weekends, Norfolk and Chesapeake residents could park closer to home and ride to Town Center. The proposed NOB route should go near Norfolk International Airport which, according to a recent email I recieved from them, "would certainly be interested and involved in such a decision should any provider propose the institution of public transportation ... at the airport." This connection of the airport would aid both Norfolk and Virginia Beach in securing conferences and conventions. Virginia Beach's Convention Center would have one more plus to advertise with. Their tourist in the summer could also plan their visits accordingly. If they come via airport and take the Tide to the Oceanfront instead of renting a car, there would be less vehicle traffic and more pedestrian traffic at the Oceanfront, leading to increased sales revenue and increased use in the Wave trolley.

9 comments:

Michael Ragsdale said...

The only problem at the moment is getting the Airport Authority out of the pockets of the cabbies. That's why now the nearest bus stop is on the 15 at Military & Noreview

Russell Manning said...

According to the airport they would be willing to look at HRT. I have the email and I will be bringing it up at the next UCAC meeting. Isn't there a planning meeting in December?

Avenging Archangel said...

This Wednesday (the 17th) is the UCAC Strategic Planning Meeting.

Regular business won't be conducted.

Missy Schmidt (formerly Missy Blankenship) said...

Russell-I wish you'd comment on this article: http://hamptonroads.com/2008/12/va-beach-needs-rail-against-costly-tide-project

thesh00ter said...

so from reading the article on the tide website, the Newport News alignment has been scrapped huh?

thesh00ter said...

nevermind i read the whole article. too bad, i thought NN would at least be the most efficient for the starter line on the Peninsula. Hampton is still in the dark ages : (

Russell Manning said...

Hopefully, NN and Hampton will be absorbed into the future of the Tide. The third crossing is supposed to carry a multi-modal tube to be used for eventual light rail

thesh00ter said...

do u think if they go on with the bridge to "ease" congestion with the HRBT that they'll still need a third crossing?

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