Congrats to VA Pilot, shame on Dougherty

14 12 2008

Usually, when I I read the paper, I enjoy the column of Kerry Dougherty. Likewise, I usually despise the Pilot’s Op/Ed writers and have written them off as nut-jobs. Today, however, was different. The Pilot redeemed themselves in their op/ed, entitled “Choppy Waters for Norfolk’s Tide.” Dougherty, on the other hand, wrote an article that caused me to lose my faith in her. She wrote a very short-sighted, misguided column that blatantly ignored the facts in order to further her diluted reality. She claimed that Norfolk had “light rail spin-doctors” coming up with excuses. She urged Virginia Beach to fight the Tide because it will surely face the same fate. On the contrary, Kerry. Unless Virginia Beach builds a building on their already clear thoroughfare, ignores the now-public safety requirements, or discovers some sort of secret chemical stash under the current railway, they will have it easy compared to what Norfolk faces. Also, addressing the rise in property values, where Kerry made the comment that “apparently Norfolk property continues to boom,” there are three multimillion dollar high rise buildings being constructed near where the building that is being acquired downtown is located. Also, an office building has recently been constructed near the Newtown Road end, where the HRT wants to build a park and ride lot. She also questioned why people with light rail experience were not hired sooner. Well, if she would read her own paper, she would have seem the answer. HRT did not want to waste money by hiring people for a project that was not approved. For a minute, I would like to compare costs for Norfolk’s Tide and Charlotte, NC’s LYNX (which is a city-proclaimed success):
Original Estimated Cost : Tide – $232, LYNX – $225
Original Estimated Cost per Mile : Tide – $31, LYNX – $22
Final/Current Cost : Tide – $288, LYNX – $463
Final/Current Cost per Mile : Tide – $39, LYNX $48
Cost Overrun : Tide – 24%, LYNX – 105%
(All costs are in millions of 2008 dollars. Amounts have been adjusted for inflation using inflation rates published by inflationdata.com. 3.9 miles were also cut off of LYNX to keep costs down: if it were constructed at full length (13.5 miles), the total cost would have been approximately $648 million, or 188% over budget.)
Therefore, Norfolk is getting a GREAT deal. After HRT learns its lessons and moves to Virginia Beach, the Beach will get a spectacular deal. Furthermore, President-elect Obama has proposed an economic stimulus for public projects. This money would only be available, however, to projects that are ready to start. If the Beach can get theirs on the right track, they may pay even less!

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2 responses

18 12 2008
Hampton Roads Partnership

Great info. Did you send this to the Pilot Editorial Board? If not, you should. The public needs all information, not a one-sided slant on a project working to build our future transit needs.

18 12 2008
Hampton Roads Partnership

How do these negative comments develop? How do we educate the public? http://hamptonroads.com/node/491837

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