Norfolk’s Economic Stimulus List

24 02 2009

Norfolk released their wishlist for the Economic Stimulus plan yesterday. It includes $556.8 million in projects. Overall, I am impressed by the list. Unlike Virginia Beach’s ‘needed’ tennis courts and play grounds, Norfolk’s list is made up of projects that would improve city efficiency. In fact, as far as I can tell, Bay Oaks Park is the only recreation project in the list. They plan on upgrading to energy efficient lighting and heating/cooling systems for the city’s largest properties. They also have $346.5 million in renovations/additions/replacements for school facilities. $38.6 million is included for transit purposes, including $500,000 for a bus transfer facility at Harbor Park and $550,000 for the Salter Street bus transfer station (commonly referred to as Cedar Grove). I am not quite sure why they need money for both, as one would negate the need for the other. Either they are trying to back-charge the cost of Cedar Grove or they are going to try to extend something like the 310 to Harbor Park and call it good. Whatever their reason, I will find out. We need to create a complete transfer station at Harbor Park and close the Cedar Grove spot. If you would like to view Norfolk’s plan yourself, it is listed on usmayors.org.

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No OLF in Surry, VA

17 02 2009

I understand the need to build a new OLF. Fentress is full an pilots cannot be trained properly at Oceana. I also understand that nobody wants it near them. It increases noise. I destroys the tranquility that residents have know for generations. It destroys historical landmarks. It destroys cemeteries. We have to pick a location that will be the lesser of the evils. We must pick a site that will harm the fewest number of people. That site is not Surry, VA. The Cabins Point site in Surry is located less than 10 miles from the City of Claremont. It is also located less than 10 miles from Pipsico Scout Reservation. For those of you unfamiliar with it, Pipsico SR is operated by Tidewater Council, the Boy scout Council that serves Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Northeast North Carolina. The camp is over 50 years old. It is a great summer camp and provides Hampton Roads youth with an activity and an experience that they would not have normally. A Surry OLF would cause too much of a disturbance to the Scout Camp for it to continue quality operations. Who would pay to come to camp if all you can hear are jets all day? Please NAVY, locate the OLF at another location. We have so much technology, why not build a floating OLF? It does not have to be complex. This is not even a new idea. Google ‘floating landing strip patents.’ It can be done. No encroachment. Perfect simulation of an aircraft carrier. It can be much longer than a carrier to compensate for errors in training. Best yet, it can be completely movable to use in different areas of the east coast, potentially saving costs in moving a carrier.





Off Topic

16 02 2009

I have created a new page for off topic posts. I will use the page’s comment section to post random thoughts, ideas, etc. Please do the same.





Kerry Dougherty: Misguided, Wrong, Contradictory

16 02 2009

I used to like Kerry Dougherty’s column in the Virginian Pilot. She seemed rational. She had good ideas. Recently, however, she seems to be completely misguided, she contradicts her own thoughts, and sometimes, she’s just plain wrong. Her past few stories on Light Rail have been unimaginably misguided. She repeatedly calls the $40 million-a-mile LRT project too expensive and urges Virginia Beach to look at better options. I can only assume she mean options like the Southeastern Parkway. Does she realize that this new road would cost nearly $47 million-a-mile? I would like to know what she thinks about the Third Crossing as well. It is going to cost well over $100 million-a-mile. Even the cost to rebuild the Battlefield Blvd. Interchange is nearly $100 million and that is just the interchange and immediate roadway. The point that I am trying to get at is that ALL construction costs have gone up. If Ms. Dougherty thinks that $40 million-a-mile is too much to spend on a mode of transportation that would actually be efficient and cost less than highway in the long run when you factor in other costs, such as air pollution and the cost to businesses of sitting in traffic. Not to mention, we are getting ours at a relative steal. Seattle’s planned expansion is going to cost over $300 million-a-mile.

On mass transit in general, Ms. Dougherty seems to have differing opinions as well. On July 10, 2008, She wrote an article basically saying that we should close high school parking lots and make the students ride the bus. She said that this would save money for everyone and help gas prices due to lower consumption. Interesting idea. She wants to make kids ride the bus but its too good for her? School buses are already over crowded. Not to mention the fortune they cost the school systems every year. Then, in a separate article, she talks about how HRT buses are ’empty.’ Apparently, she only looks at fringe buses on off-peak hours. There are quite a few HRT routes that are standing room only during rush hour. Maybe they would have even more passengers if people like her spent less time complaining about them and more time giving them a shot.

Mass transportation will succeed in Hampton Roads. The majority of residents are for it. Unfortunately, the few that are against it are more vocal than those that want it.





Draft Transit Vision Plan for HR

13 02 2009

The draft Transit Vision Plan for Hampton Roads has been released. At 80 pages, it took some time, but I have read it through. Overall, I have been very impressed with it. For those of you who don’t feel like reading the whole thing through, I will try to sum it up.

The purpose of this plan is to create a regional vision for mass transportation. Currently, there is no such plan and every city more or less does what it wants. We all have our own plans that may or may not coordinate with neighboring cities. This plan does not set specific time lines but it does give ranges on which we should work to complete certain tasks. It is a very comprehensive plan, looking at every and all methods of transportation and how they should interact with each other, which is, so far, more than any city or even HRT has done to date. Taken from the draft:

TRANSIT VISION FOR THE HAMPTON ROADS REGION
Hampton Roads is to be served by an efficient, sustainable, and integrated transit network of local buses, express buses, bus rapid transit, light rail transit, and commuter rail. Local buses serve neighborhoods and link riders to higher capacity transit corridors. The light rail system, the streetcars, and the bus rapid transit lines provide fast and reliable regional transit connections. Commuter rail carries workers across the longer distances from semi-rural residential areas to employment and activity centers in the region. As a result of its transit investments, the region continues to attract employers, residents, and visitors, and it continues to grow and foster economic development. However, this growth is compact – primarily targeted to mixed-use activity centers and high-capacity transit corridors – and better protects the region’s precious natural resources and environmentally sensitive areas. Ultimately, the region’s pattern of growth increases mobility, accessibility, and quality of life — allowing a parent to walk a child to school, step into a café for breakfast, then walk to the transit station for the morning’s commute.

For this plan, the group has identified key transportation corridors. Those corridors are:

  • Corridor 1: Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) to Newtown Road, Norfolk
    This is the current corridor for the Tide LRT that is currently under construction. The plan suggests coordinating regular bus routes with the new LRT stations increasing accessibility and thus increasing ridership on the Tide. It also suggests updating the Norfolk Comprehensive Plan to increase density along the route. Finally, it calls for the construction of an intermodal transportation hub near Harbor Park that would connect to Corridors 7 and 9a as well as the future high speed rail line to Richmond.
  • Corridor 2: Christopher Newport University to Denbigh Boulevard, Newport News
    Ultimately, the plan calls for LRT in this corridor. First, however, it pushes for enhancing bus service first to get passengers on transit in the corridor so the LRT will be more effective and easier to get the public behind. It also calls for coordinating bus routes, increasing bus frequency, and increasing density with Transit Oriented Developments (TOD) to make the case for LRT easier. This route would connect to corridors 11, 12, 14, and 15.
  • Corridor 3: Newtown Road to Oceanfront, Virginia Beach
    This is the Norfolk Southern Right-of-way that is currently being acquired by the City of Virginia Beach. While it calls for LRT to be constructed here, it plans for an enhanced bus route on Virginia Beach Boulevard in the meantime, with 15-minute intervals between trips, limited stops, and 100% bus shelters. The stops for this bus would be near the locations for LRT stops. The plan also requires the increased build-up of Pembroke/Town Center, Hilltop, Lynnhaven, and the Oceanfront. At the same time, it also requests that the city limit parking and rethink parking prices and terms. This corridor would also connect to corridors 1, 10, 17, and an indirect connection to corridor 4.
  • Corridor 4: Military Highway/I-64 Corridor, Norfolk
    LRT is planned in the long-range for this corridor. This corridor would require bus routes to be coordinated, residential density to be increased to medium density, and the redevelopment of Janaf and Military Circle. Surprisingly, it does not mention the inclusion of Norfolk International Airport in the immediate improvements for current bus service. This corridor would connect to corridors 1, 3, 5, and 16.
  • Corridor 5: Downtown Norfolk to Naval Station Norfolk, Norfolk
    LRT is the goal for this corridor. Until then, the plan calls for limited-stop bus service with 15-minute service intervals, and full shelters. Development should be focused on the Downtown and ODU areas. The city should work with ODU to make sure that their long-range plans fit in with those of the Transit Plan. This corridor will connect to corridors 1, 4, 8, and 16.
  • Corridor 6: Campostella Road and Battlefield Boulevard, Chesapeake
    Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is the long range vision for this corridor. (For those unfamiliar with BRT, it is similar to LRT except that it runs buses. i.e strategically located stops and dedicated right-of-ways. The plan focuses on redeveloping the South Norfolk area of Chesapeake. The plan would greatly reduce transit travel time, making it as fast or faster than transportation by passenger car.
  • Corridor 7: Route 168/I-464 Corridor, Chesapeake
    This corridor, running from Norfolk to Portsmouth to Edinburgh and beyond, must have an express bus service (such as MAX) started immediately. The long term goal is to build a commuter rail line from Downtown Norfolk to Northeast North Carolina. Modification of current bus routes is also required to compliment a new express service.
  • Corridor 8a: EVMS to Midtown Tunnel & Downtown Portsmouth
    LRT is the goal. Calls for the construction of a new Midtown Tunnel tube with a transit component that can be used for express bus service at first and can be converted to LRT.
  • Corridor 8b: High Street/Churchland Corridor, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk
    Running from Downtown Portsmouth to Harbour view in Suffolk, this corridor is slated for a future LRT project. In the meantime, BRT will make do. The plan suggests increasing development around current and emerging activity centers as well as redevelopment of older centers.
  • Corridor 8c: Portsmouth Boulevard Corridor, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk
    BRT is the goal, running from Downtown Portsmouth to Northgate Commerce Park. Current bus service is insufficient due to long transit times.
  • Corridor 8d: Western Freeway, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight
    Express bus service is the goal. Service should start immediately from Norfolk to Harbour View and eventually extended all the way to Smithfield.
  • Corridor 9a: US 460/I-264/CSX Corridor, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk
    Connecting the Downtowns of Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, this corridor would be served by commuter rail. In the short term, the MAX rout to the Silverleaf Park & Ride should be extended to Downtown Suffolk, making it possible to ride transit from Downtown Suffolk to the Oceanfront.
  • Corridor 9b: I-664/I-264 Corridor, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk
    Express bus service is the goal.
  • Corridor 10: Oceanfront Corridor, Virginia Beach
    Running down the Oceanfront from around Bay Colony Dr. to Rudee Inlet, this corridor would be served by BRT. Would be enhanced by redevelopment of the Oceanfront and an increase in the walkability of the area.
  • Corridor 11: Peninsula CSX Corridor, Newport News, James City, York, Williamsburg
    This corridor would be serviced by both LRT and Commuter Rail. Commuter rail would be implemented first, followed by LRT. This would allow increased mobility between Williamsburg and the Southern part of the region.
  • Corridor 12: Downtown Hampton to Oyster Point, Hampton, Newport News
    BRT to start with, followed by LRT. Local service buses should be rerouted to compliment the new service.
  • Corridor 13: Downtown Newport News to Buckroe, Newport News, Hampton
    This corridor would connect the Peninsula Downtowns and promote higher density development in between. It would be served by a Streetcar service (shared ROW light rail)
  • Corridor 14: US 17/Gloucester County Corridor, Gloucester, York, Newport News
    Express bus service would serve this corridor from Oyster Point to the Gloucester Courthouse. Combined with park and ride lots, this corridor would promote development along the corridor.
  • Corridor 15: Poquoson, Oyster Point, Coliseum, Poquoson, N. News, York, Hampton
    Express bus service would serve this corridor, running from Coliseum Central to Oyster Point via Poquoson.
  • Corridor 16: Hampton Roads Harbor Crossings, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk
    This corridor deals with crossing the Hampton Roads Harbor. In the mid-range, this plan calls for ferry service to connect the Southside and the Peninsula. This connection would then be replaced by LRT.
  • Corridor 17: Princess Anne Road and Lynnhaven Parkway Corridors, Virginia Beach
    Running from Newtown Road to the Lynnhaven Parkway/I-264 LRT area station from Corridor 3 via TCC, this corridor would be serviced by BRT.
  • Corridor 18: Downtown Suffolk to Harbour View, Suffolk
    Express bus service would run from Downtown Suffolk to Harbour View.

As you can see, this plan is a very comprehensive plan. It combines multiple modes to get the most transit for the best price. I think that this plan hits the nail on the head when it comes mass transportation. Unlike previous reports, which more more like lofty pipe dreams with no means with which to attain them, this plan has a section of service improvements that should be implemented immediately to current HRT routes. It also submits potential finding sources that are not only attainable, but would encourage the use of transit versus personal vehicles. Currently, the Hampton Roads area (particularly Virginia Beach and Chesapeake) is actually studied by Urban Planning classes as a what-not-to-do example. Hampton Roads is also in the Top 20 for Largest Urbanized Areas when ranked by level of Urban Sprawl (source). That is not something that should be  looked favorably on. We need a transit system to solve this problem. Urban Sprawl contributes not only to traffic and higher costs of living for our area (especially in costs to health and well-being), but it also contributes to the destruction of our environment, especially the Chesapeake Bay, which is damaged by pollutants from automobiles. Going back to the study, breaking from tradition and actually listening to suggestions, the public meetings will be held at the Southside and Peninsula HRT headquarter buildings, meaning they area actually accessible by those riding transit. That public meeting will be on the 24th of February from 4-7 PM. They will be located at:

  • Hampton Roads Transit Southside
    1500 Monticello Ave.
    Norfolk, VA 23510
    (Served by bus routes 1, 3, and 961)
  • Hampton Roads Transit Peninsula
    3400 Victoria Blvd.
    Hampton, VA 23661
    (Served by bus route 103)

Please, if you have a comment to make, BE THERE. Do not expect to be heard if you do not speak up. The only way that a plan such as this will get the support of the region is if we get some real turnout at the meetings.

Lastly, for those of you, like me, that prefer graphics, I will put the Transit Plan into a Google Earth file. Unfortunately, it is 3:35 AM and I can no longer keep working on this as I have to get up in the morning.

The full draft can be located on the Transit Plan Website, http://www.hamptonroadstransitplan.com/, or directly by clicking here.





Southeastern Parkway

11 02 2009

The Final Environmental Impact Study was completed on the Southeastern parkway last December. I have updated my guess-timate map with one that is as close to the FEIS as I can get on Google Maps:





Attention Norfolkians

7 02 2009

If you live in Norfolk, especially in Randy Wright’s district, you might like to know that on Saturday, February 28, 2009, Mr. Wright will be hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss things such as:

  • Light Rail
  • SPSA
  • Real Estate Assessments
  • Courthouse Costs
  • Anything else

This event is open to everybody! He is even buying us donuts and coffee as bribes for our presence.

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting, Hosted by Randy Wright
WHERE: The Azalea Inn, 2344 East Little Creek Rd.
WHEN: February 28th, 8:30 AM