Shame On You, Virginia

17 05 2008

This week I am at a training/certification camp for Boy Scouts. this camp in in North Carolina, near Charlotte. It took me 6.5 hours to drive hear from Chesapeake. That is approximately 300 miles. Most of my time was on US 58. 55 MPH and two lanes most of the way, filled with trucks and traffic lights. Once I hit I-85, I took that towards Raleigh. Once I got near Raleigh, the Interstate became at least 3 lanes (with 4 or 5 around the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Greensborough.).
There are people here this week that drove up from Jacksonville, FL. Their drive was 450 miles. I t also took them 6.5 hours. To me, that says something about Virginia’s roadways. Its about time that our legislators started actually working to fix these problems. We live in a heavy traffic prone cul-de-sac of the Interstate system. We need more rail systems and we need to fix our cul-de-sac nature. We need an Interstate that goes from the 64/264/664 split due west to connect to I-95 and I-85. US 58 has become a choke point for the transportation of goods via truck. There were times when I just didn’t feel safe; 55-65 MPH surrounded by unstable trucks that are drifting their way down the road.


Icon for a what?

12 05 2008

The proposal for the Kirn Light Rail Station by Urban Design Associates is preposterous. This UDA proposal is decidedly suburban. How is a suburban plaza design supposed to be icon of an urban city such as Norfolk? They wanted to create an iconic gathering place for the city. Well first of all, we already have ‘iconic’ gathering places; Town Point Park, Waterside, MacArthur Center, etc. Some of these places are doing better than others. Waterside is ailing right now, because the city is spending more money subsidizing the businesses inside that they are spending money to revitalize the structure itself. As for the future of the Kirn space, I stand behind my earlier idea. We should build a new library above the light rail station. As an option to the idea, offices, condos, or both could be constructed above the library. A building such as this WOULD be an icon. An icon of cooperation. An icon of efficiency. An icon of success.

Empty Pavilion=Drain on the region

5 05 2008

The nTelos Pavilion is yet one more casualty from the individualism present in the Hampton Roads region. If we worked under one jurisdiction, then we would all be proud of what the rest of us had, and we would have no need to compete. Portsmouth built the nTelos to compete with the Verizon Wireless VBA. I’m sure everyone has heard the ad on TV that states, “When banks compete, you win.” We can apply a similar slogan to this situation. “We cities compete, you lose.” Our area does not need but so many large music venues. Same goes form convention spaces. Every city in our area has subsidized a convention center. Imagine the conventions that our area could be host to if we had combined our resources for a regional convention center. People need to see that these overlapping services are wasteful. Each city is promoting the “Hampton Roads: America’s First Region” campaign while at the same time working against everything that the campaign stands for. Meanwhile, people are struggling to pay their taxes because their cities refuse to cut costs. Millions of dollars are wasted each year in our area on overlapping services. I know that SPSA isn’t exactly a shining model, but it is the type of thing we need: A central service, contracted by the city. The more this is spread, the lower the costs. Anyone in business knows that as you purchase larger quantities, the price goes down. This works in this case as well. Regional Recycling and waste disposal to start. Why not move to regional garbage collection? Or regional water service? Or any number of services. Schools. Libraries. Parks. The more we spread out the cost amongst the citizen of Hampton Roads, the less it will cost per person. Each city has strengths and weaknesses. Usually a weakness in one city is a strength of another. We need to nurture the strengths of each city and apply them to the region. Sure there is a lot to work out in the plan, but it has to start somewhere. We can not keep applying temporary solutions to thing around here or we will only achieve temporary success. It is time to think. It is time to act. For the sake of our future, act now.

Mass Transit beats all but HRBT

5 05 2008

In a recent poll by Christopher Newport University (30 April 2008. VA Pilot. B1) they found that Expanding the HRBT was the top priority of citizens in our area. That is not surprising at all, really. What might be more surprising is that second on the list was to improve/expand mass transit, including light rail. This mass transit option beat out Widening I-64 on the Peninsula and the Southside, the 3rd crossing, an expanded Midtown tunnel, an expanded US 460 and the Southeastern Parkway. In other words, despite the incredibly vocal nay-sayers, there is an overwhelming amount of support for mass transit. Perhaps it is time to forward this poll and story onto our legislators in Richmond and let them know that we already know how to solve our transportation problems; they just need to stroke the check.

VA Beach’s Golden Gate Bridge

4 05 2008

A bridge to cross VA Beach Blvd would certainly be safer than attempting to cross the ten-lane superhighway that is the Blvd. Their proposed design, however, is a tad bit grander than required to work.
Since VA Beach is looking at a tighter budget, why not scale back the design? Norfolk has at least four of these footbridges downtown alone. They are fully functional, they’re not eyesore, and they certainly cost less than $3 million to build.

VA Beach really needs to start spending more wisely and focus their resources on more pressing issues. I live in Norfolk and I just found out that ALL of my neighbors moved from VA Beach. They said that they moved here because the neighborhood was better (less crime, friendlier neighbors, etc.), the schools were about the same, and they got more house for their money. I’m not sure if this is a trend or a coincidence, but VA Beach should be careful of who it steps on the further its image. That means they should spend wisely and look to their neighbors as allies, not competitors.

And so it falls…so new can rise.

3 05 2008

Yesterday I went downtown after work. I happened to pass the Freemason garage as they were tearing it down. Its actually kinda exciting, you know? A very definite sign of the progress sparked by our new light rail.

Its also exciting to drive by NSU, where they are actually building the LR track. They have most of the elevated platforms and pilings up on the west side of NSU and on the east side, they’ve torn up the old tracks and are getting ready to lay the new ones.

I’m back!

2 05 2008

I know my blogging has kinda slacked off recently, my last post was over a week and a half ago. I do apologize, but between finals week and work, I hardly had enough time to breathe. I am finished now, no more school till next semester, when I will be transferring to ODU (wish that light rail went through to there…) I do hope to be back to my frequent blogging very soon. 3rd week of may, I’ll be out for something called camp school, then in June I leave for camp. (For those of you who don’t know, I work summers a a Boy Scout camp up in Surry) I will still try to blog throughout summer, though, just maybe a couple times a week. Internet access will be sparse however, so bear with me.