Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chesapeake, Va., eyes The Tide LRT

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Chesapeake, Va., is poised to submit a formal request for aid from Hampton Roads Transit to extend The Tide light rail transit to the municipality.

Chesapeake seeks to launch a $1.8 million planning study, with any eye toward obtaining Virginia and federal funds to advance LRT. It also plans to apply for part of $24 million in state transportation planning dollars that will be available in 2021. The application deadline is Aug. 15, 2014, local media report.

The city, situated predominantly south of Norfolk, thus adds a third sought-after extension of The Tide. Virginia Beach, east of Norfolk, currently seeks to bring LRT across the Norfolk border along ex-Norfolk Southern right-of-way it purchased in 2010 for such a move, while Norfolk, home to the existing 7.4-mile starter LRT line, is working to extend The Tide's western terminus to Naval Station Norfolk.

"Now is the right time," said Chesapeake Councilman Rick West, playing down the signficance of the proposed City Council resolution by adding, "This is not a commitment. You can always decide you don't want to build it, but if you don't put your hat in the ring, you don't have that option."

Chesapeake's City Council adopted a resolution endorsing LRT in Chesapeake as early as 1996, and four years later, unlike Virginia Beach in 1999, voters approved a referendum favoring the concept. But concerns over local cost shares stalled further progress.