HRTA -Questioned Again?

27 02 2008

Today the Virginian Pilot reported that James City County was reversing their decision to support the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority.
I understand their thought. None of the projects that will be produced by the HRTA will affect JCC (except maybe the I64 widening). Even though they will not be affected, they will still be required to pay all of the fees that the HRTA will be collecting. They don’t believe the philosophy of a regional economy.
I think that we can fix this problem though. The HRTA was created to do only certain projects set by the legislature. They cannot change these projects. I think that they should be made to be the Hampton Roads branch of VDOT. They should be funded by the state in an amount equal to what VDOT would spend on average in our area. I think that they should be allowed to collect tolls and fees to further fund themselves. This plan would keep our money where it belongs. They should also be able to modify, add, or eliminate projects. This would allow for a local organization to hear local comments on what should happen, instead of a far, far away legislature deciding for us.
As for their priorities, they should improve our interstates, build new tunnels, and focus on light rail. Our interstates have potholes the size of small cars in some places. This is not acceptable. Furthermore, we cannot neglect our tunnels any longer. The Midtown tunnel should be 2 lanes in each direction with a right side shoulder, and the HRBT, MMBT, and Downtown tunnels should be 3 lanes in each direction with a right side shoulder. All 4 of these should also be built with a multi-purpose center tube for light rail. The HRBT should be first, followed by the Midtown. After that, the next 2 should be worked consecutively with light rail. We could build a regional world-class light rail system for cheaper than the current projects.

The Future of Kirn Memorial Library

21 02 2008

As we all may know, Kirn Memorial Library is scheduled to be torn down this year to make room for the Light Rail System. There are many different view on the building ranging from eyesore to wonder. No matter what it looks like, it is still Norfolk’s Central Library. I think that its replacement should remain downtown and should be the centerpiece for a continued redevelopment. Kirn was build during the last redevelopment stretch in the 60s. Why not continue that tradition?
I think that the new Library should be built right where Kirn is now. Yes, I know theres going to be a rail line in the middle, but hear me out. I think that the new building could be build OVER the light rail station. Image a steel and glass structure. I think that 5 stories would be good. The bottom floor would have the elevators to the library and the indoor light rail stop. This would save the city money and time in having to find a new location. It would also be a great way to have our central library connected and easily accessible by the rest of the city and/or region.
Furthermore, the city could even create a public/private partnership of some sort. Land in that spot of downtown is hard to come by and of high value to developers. If we could find a developer to build a 15-20 story office/condo building, we could chip in and secure the first few floors for a library. People would pay big bucks to live or have offices there due to the fact they dont have to brave the elements to get on the light rail.
Naysayers go on and nay, but when it comes to efficient use of resources, this is the best way to go. Whether it be to save time, money or the environment, this would help.

You’re voting for who?!?

20 02 2008

Recently there has been a lot of complaining about having to publicly announce your party of choosing on primary day. Although I agree that this should be kept private, I think that there is another issue that is more important. There is no proof that your vote even was recorded. No paper trail. Now, I use a computer (obviously). I know that more than once I’ve saved something on my computer only to find out later that it never saved. I’ve had computers lose files. I’ve even had once lose an entire hard drive. I’m sure you’ve had similar problems. My point is that these all-electronic machines have no back-ups. What if someone bumps the machine and it loses memory? What if someone for whatever reason walks up to the machine with a magnet, erasing the entire day’s worth of votes? It has already been proven that a virus could be uploaded to the machines to alter the outcomes of an election.
My proposal is this: We need a machine that gives out a hard copy for voters to check over themselves. These hard-copies are then used to count the vote, NOT THE MACHINES. You can verify a person, you can not verify a computer.

How about… benefit of the LAW?

20 02 2008

Re:”Give Police Benefit of Doubt” Letter to the Editor, Virginian Pilot, Homer Stinson.

Why do the police need the benefit of doubt? They have the benefit of being police officers. If a policeman shoots a suspect on the street because he ‘thought’ he might have a gun, the policeman gets a few days of leave and then comes back to work. If a civilian shoots a police officer because he feels reasonably threatened in his own home, he gets charged with capital murder. Where is the justice here? Last time I checked, a person was innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of his peers.
I believe that this man, Ryan Frederick, is genuinely innocent of capital murder. If he was sleeping as he claims, even if the police identified themselves outside, how would he have heard them? Even if he was awake, he had his dogs barking at the door. I have 2 dogs and I know that when they are barking, I couldn’t hear the police from 3 feet away, let alone outside.
Besides, why did they need to bust in to get him? Everyone knows that the element of surprise is one of the most important deciding factors of any fight. Why would the police enter a residence of which they are completely unfamiliar when they could hide outside and wait for him to come out. He had a regular work schedule.
Perhaps Chesapeake should re-evaluate its policy on police informants. They lost a good police officer this time and last time (when they shot up the lady’s house) they further diminished their reputation. When they are done with that, they should rethink the citizen oversight committee, before their police cause more crime than they stop.

PS -Apparently they DO read the paper

13 02 2008

I wrote a letter to the editor about the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority. I checked their page on Monday, the 11th of February. It said that their next meeting was the 16th of January. My letter was published on the 13th of February. I just checked their website again, and it now says, “Next Meeting Time and Date To Be Determined.” Nice. If you type “javascript:alert(document.lastModified)” into the address bar of your browser, a window pops up with the time and date of the last update. This shows that HRTA’s meetings page was updated at 08:58:21 AM on 2/13/08. Now all we have to do is get a logical agenda for them printed and they might have something constructive to do.

One more thing…

11 02 2008

One more thing to add to my regional LRT plan. The total projected cost of all six projects that the HRTA is responsible for is over $10 billion dollars. We may be able to get 135 miles out of $4.2 billion, but we can get 312 miles out of $10 billion. That is more than enough to solve our transportation problem in a reasonable, environmentally-friendly way.
In addition, one of the main arguments for expanding out highways is the evacuation factor. Can you imagine 1.5 million people driving out on our current roads? Even expanded, thats still a lot of people, especially when it takes 2 hours to get to Richmond we the traffic IS moving. Now going with the LRT plan, if we connected it to the proposed high speed rail to Richmond ( This trail would travel at an estimated speed of over 100 mph. That means Norfolk to Richmond in an hour or less. If people were evacuated using mass transportation, we could be evacuated quicker with less traffic on the roads. It would also speed up the process of returning after an evacuation, when interstates resume to normal operating procedures (they switch to an all-lanes-out procedure during an evacuation). It seems that once again, outdated thinking and stubborn pride is tromping over reasoned logic.

A 3rd Crossing… to where?

6 02 2008

Recently, on the front page of the VA Pilot, there was an article about whether it would be more effective to widen the HRBT or make a 3rd Crossing.
First, lets take a look at the crossings we have today. The HRBT crosses from Norfolk on the Southside to Hampton on the Peninsula via I-64. The second crossing, the MMBT, crosses from Suffolk on the Southside to Newport News on the Peninsula via I-664.
Now lets look at the proposed third crossing. It would connect Norfolk on the Southside to … Suffolk on the Southside… How is it a third crossing? It would take heavy traffic from 64 and transport them down a gridlocked 564 (just from base traffic) and put it on the heavy-traffic 664. It would do nothing but delay the inevitable: gridlock.
A real solution would be back to mass transit. The Peninsula is looking at their own light rail system. Norfolk’s is under construction. The 3rd crossing would cost an estimated $4.2 billion. Norfolk’s 7.4 mile light rail will cost $232.1 million or about $32 million a mile. If the 3rd crossing money was used on light rail, we could get 130 miles of light rail.
I have made a rough map that could cover Hampton Roads by connecting key places such as:
-The OceanFront including Rudee Loop
-VB Convention Center
-VB Municipal Center
-Great Bridge
-Chesapeake Municipal Center
-Cedar Road
-Norfolk Airport
-Little Creek Amphib Base
-Military Circle/Janaf
-Norfolk TCC
-Chesapeake TCC
-Portsmouth TCC
-Norfolk Naval Station
-Norfolk Naval Shipyard
-Downtown Portsmouth
-Newport News
-HR Convention Center
-Lynnhaven Mall
The cost to connect all of these with Light Rail? At Norfolk’s $32 million/ mile, this 121 mile addition would cost $192 million LESS than the proposed 3rd crossing. Why not create a SOLUTION to congestion instead of a delay? The $192 million would go towards the crossings for the Light Rail. In the end the cost would be no more than the 3rd crossing. This would be much more beneficial to the region in more ways than I can count/list here.
Contact your representatives (city/state) and tell then about this alternative.

View my map