Norfolk City Council vs. HRT

30 09 2008

Recently, the Virginian-Pilot has released two articles about Norfolk City Council’s current sentiment towards HRT. I was hoping to have posted my story earlier. I was at the city council meeting last week when Mayor Fraim called HRT’s lack of communication ‘arrogant’ and ‘not acceptable.’ In my opinion, this is not all HRT’s fault. The majority of it may be, but the city should have pressed harder. Norfolk’s City Manager seems to only get involved when she is told to by council at a meeting after someone criticizes something.
Norfolk needs a new City Manager. I don’t want them to fire her, but it is time that she should retire. She has been Norfolk’s City Manager for nearly 10 years and it is time for change. She has been a good manager in the past but recently she is starting to slide.
HRT, as well, needs some change. They are better than they used to be, I will give them that. However, they seem to be two-sided. On one side, you have the friendly customer service people and things such as the UCAC, designed to promote better communication between customers and company. On the other side, though, you have the higher-ups and the larger projects. They seem to act like they are the final decision on everything. They don’t heed to questions, problems, or complaints. Although these problems are technically in the minority, they are what form the opinions of everyone. People don’t remember the good, just the bad. Come on, HRT. You need to remember that you are paid by the city via taxpayer dollars.

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New fancy Chopper for the Beach

18 09 2008


So, Virginia Beach just bought a brand new helicopter for the Police department. They claim that it is for fighting crime, expediting medical airlift for the southern area of Virginia Beach (both commendable objectives), and promoting business growth. The last objective, I kind of take issue with. I think that if they purchase a helicopter for public safety reasons, great, I commend them. But when you use it to fly cooperate executives around scouting potential relocation sites, that is where I draw the line. POLICE is printed on the side of the helicopter. If they want to take the other helicopter they own, paint it all fancy with Virginia Beach on the side and transfer ownership to the VA Beach Department of Economic Development, that’s fine. But using the Police chopper would be the equivalent of driving the executive around in a marked police car. Its just not right. Virginia Beach, please keep public safety and economic development seperate.





Bridges – Interesting

18 09 2008

Remember all that jazz about the bridge sufficiency ratings? Big headlines in the paper, then all of a sudden they disappeared due to a security risk that might be present in disclosing the ratings… Well, they are still here and you can find them all online for the state of VA at: http://dashboard.virginiadot.org/Pages/Maintenance/AdvancedBridgeReport.aspx?districtCode=5





Chesapeake School Security – LobbyGuard

18 09 2008

This is not a good idea. It just isn’t. The idea of having every parent scan in their ID is ludicrous. Right now they only check it with Sex Offender list. What happens next? Do they add in the outstanding warrant list? The past due taxes list? The past due parking ticket list? What happens if a parent is a sex offender? If they are just bringing their child into school or coming in for a parent-teacher conference, will security come and get them? Will parents be deprived the right to be involved with their children’s education because they are a sex offender. While I (just like anyone) want sex offenders to stay away from my children (when I have them), if another parent is a sex offender, they should not be kept out of their child’s life. If they made a bad decision before they had children, served their time, and now they are productive members of society, why are they still punished. I think that at very least, these machines should be given a list of accepted legal guardians. If the person is a legal guardian of a child, the alarms should not go off. Of course this could be done with just an administrative assistant in an office. Many private schools already do this. They have a list for every child of the people that are authorized to pick up each child. If a child is picked up, the person has to stop by the office and show an ID. They are then compared to the list of accepted persons. This is alot more productive when combined with a security guard. If the parent is a sex offeder and these alerts call security to the person, how is that going to affect the child? Especially if the child did not know beforehand. What if the student is the sex offender? This is a possibility in High School. Why is it that it is only the parents that get screened? The children are more likely to be injured at the hand of another student than an outside coming into the building
And remember… This coming from the City who doesn’t even screen its administration. (as a refresher; the GBHS vice principal that allegedly killed his wife – the school system had no current address for him, etc)





Bridges

18 09 2008

Why is it that most of our bridges that were built in the 1930s and 40s are becoming deficient and there is no money to fix them? Its not like all of a sudden we woke up one morning and *gasp* all of a sudden this bridge is 75 years old. This money should have been set aside years ago. I think that each bridge built should have a trust fund set up at the time of construction. Factor $5 million into the original cost and put that $5 million into this trust fund. At first, when the bridge is new and requires little maintenance, this money would just grow on interest. Then, as work is required, this money will already be there and we won’t have to wait for the State to do anything. Furthermore, if there are tolls collect on this bridge, the toll money should be put into this fund and all expenses can come out of the fund.
The Math: If you start with $5 million dollars, you anticipate a 1% return, and you deposit a meager $200,000 annually, you will have over $278 million after 75 years, well enough to built a replacement. If you can up the annual deposit (paid via tolls) to $500,000, the total after only 50 years in nearly $300 million. If you can make it 75 years for the lifespan of the bridge, the $679 million available at the end will be more than sufficient to build a DAMN fine bridge.
Do this for each and every bridge we build from now on and we will never have a bridge problem again. We can also make it a felony for any lawmaker who attempts to dip in for other projects. Perhaps we can require an E-Z Pass in every new vehicle as well so that in the future we will not need to stop for tolls.





Chesapeake – Bottleneck Planned?

17 09 2008

I looking at the master transportation plan for the previous post, I noticed that Chesapeake actually has a bottleneck planned. Its hard to see from this image but if you click on it and go to page four of the document you can see it better:

Now if you look closely, the Chesapeake Expressway is supposed to be expanded to and 8-lane highway. Then, as it crosses Mount Pleasant, it becomes a 6-lane Highway only to become an 8-lane Arterial after the toll plaza. What’s up with this planned bottleneck? If traffic increases as is expected, they would not only need to slow for the toll but then have to merge, causing even greater backup.





The Southeastern Parkway

17 09 2008

I am here to clarify why I am against the Southeastern Parkway.
First, this has been ‘in planning’ for nearly 30 years. 30 years ago it was no more than a pipe dream allegedly created to ease future congestion. Great, that sounds like logical planning. Then, however, the city decided not to wait and to build large scale developments without the parkway (necessary infrastructure). Things such as Corporate Landing and residential communities so far away from the highway with little infrastructure near them represent BAD planning. They should never have been built. The Parkway is expected to cost upwards of $1 billion and currently has $0 funded. Improved mass transportation would do better to alleviate congestion. With gas prices always on the rise, people have decreased the amount they drive. In fact, the main source of revenue for this project (The Federal Highway Trust Fund), is set to run out of money this month because fuel consumption has dropped so dramatically that the gas tax cannot refill the Fund. This is not caused by more fuel efficient cars, but by people actually driving less.
Yes, I agree that there is congestion out there. However, I do not want my tax money to fund a project for a declining activity. I would much rather have my tax money spent on progressive ideas, such as mass transit or car pooling programs. Not to mention, for the most part it is still farmlands, however, this freeway is set to cut through at least one neighborhood. How would those residents feel, knowing that their homes have to be torn down so that you can get to your home quicker? Is that right? The residents in this region need to work together to solve our problems not against one another for self-serving causes. Not to mention that the connection point in Chesapeake, the Expressway, is already heavily congested in the morning commute, heading into Norfolk. An additional 4 lanes of traffic to this area will only lead to gridlock.
The $1 billion cost of this project could build nearly 30 miles of light rail if you use the cost-per-mile of Norfolk! All another highway would do is temporarily relieve congestion. It would not be complete for another 30 years and by then it would be largely useless because most people would have moved closer to the infrastructure that they need. A city’s job is not to cater to the needs of each citizen but to cater to the needs of the city as a whole. The future of Virginia Beach is centered around the Virginia Beach Blvd-I264-Norfolk Southern Corridor. Without focusing on that, the city will die. I understand that the people in the middle area of VA Beach want easy access to a highway. Wouldn’t it be nice to pull out of your driveway directly onto the highway? Reality check – The time and money to be spent on this project makes it not worth it.