Monday, April 30, 2012

Virginia Moving Forward with Rail - Will Virginia Beach?

Amtrak in StauntonDespite a Congress that's more interested in pandering to the austerity crowd than actually solving America's problems, Virginia is moving to create jobs & boost our economy with several new rail projects:
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is forging ahead on several state rail improvement and expansion projects using mostly state funding, concerned that even promised federal funds won’t materialize in time.

[Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Thelma] Drake said that her department was hard at work on an Amtrak extension that would connect Richmond to Norfolk (some 111 miles apart, see diagram at top). The project’s cost recently swelled by about $13 million to a total $114.6 million, due to added safety and infrastructure costs, all paid for in state transportation funding. The state believes the service, which will cost $33 for a one-way ticket between Norfolk and Washington, will pay for itself.
Depending on your mileage, it costs about $30 just for gas to drive from Norfolk to DC, so $33 for a one-way ticket would be a huge bargain. (And yes, note the time for posterity - I just said something nice about Bob McDonnell & Thelma Drake. Given how much the McDonnell administration is bungling Metro's Silver Line, don't get used to it.)

Meanwhile, the Virginian-Pilot editorializes in favor of a fresh look at light rail in Virginia Beach:
People in Virginia Beach have been talking about light rail since the 1970s. In 1999, the last time they were asked whether to bring it to the city, about 42,000 voters said no. But that didn't stop the discussions, arguments, affirmations - or the second-guessing - for a dozen years.

In November, the issue is back on the ballot. The City Council wants to take the pulse of the citizens, hundreds of thousands of them this time, on whether to pursue an extension of Norfolk's light-rail line, The Tide, to the Beach. [...]

If voters approve of extending The Tide, it'll be years before trains are rolling to Town Center. If they reject light rail, city leaders must come up with other solutions to traffic problems that are only getting worse.

Virginia Beach failed to research light rail thoroughly before its voters rejected the idea 13 years ago. The city has a chance to do it right this time.
Done right, light rail can spur development, save commuters money, reduce the need for expensive parking, cut traffic and slash air pollution. What's not to like?
Post a Comment