Elements of light rail extension study ahead of schedule

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by 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 1:09 AM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- "HRT made it clear," said Mayor Will Sessoms, "that there is a lot to learn from what occurred in Norfolk, and I can assure you, we plan on doing that."

Virginia Beach City Council received an update from Hampton Roads Transit Tuesday about the study looking at the possibility of extending light rail into city, connecting to the line that already runs in Norfolk.

The study began in 2009 but was delayed several times.

The study is supposed to give officials an idea of ridership, costs and logistics for a light rail extension, as well as other forms of public transportation like a bus rapid transit system.
 
Several council members have expressed concern over the time line of the study and whether its completion date will put them in the best position to get federal dollars for an extension.

Councilman Bill DeSteph told 13News it may mean extending the service only to Town Center and not all the way to the Oceanfront.
 
"It's been delayed three or four times," said DeSteph.  "From a cost perspective, we will look at getting some form of light rail into the city, at some level because the majority of the population wants it."

"You see the same people every day," said Carol Sanderson who lives in Virginia Beach. Sanderson parks at the lot located at The Tide's terminus at Newtown Road almost daily, using light rail to get to her job in Downtown Norfolk.

"It doesn't cost a lot to ride it. It's $1.50 a day, and it saves me on parking," explained Sanderson. "Parking is, like, $85 a month."

The study will have specifics about cost, logistics, and design. At least some elements of it should be available by November.

"We have every reason to believe it will be very favorable because of the high ridership in Norfolk," said Sessoms. "If I was reading the crystal ball right now, my best guess is we're gonna get from Newtown Road to Town Center under construction within a few years."


 

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