Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Virginia Beach (finally) ready for The Tide

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After at least 14 years of deciding to pass on implementing light rail transit, the Virginia Beach, Va., City Council has approved a study to explore financial aspects of extending The Tide LRT from neighboring Norfolk into the municipality.

Support for LRT has grown considerably since Hampton Roads Transit began operating The Tide in August 2011, including vocal and financial groundwork from Virginia Beach businesses, according to both local sources and recent visitors to Virginia Beach briefing Railway Age. In addition, more than 60% of Virginia Beach voters approved pursuit of LRT in a non-binding referendum Nov. 6.

The City Council Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance "authorizing use of reasonable efforts" to extend LRT, according to local media. Mayor Will Sessoms said the results of a new study should be in by next June or July.

The current 7.4-mile LRT line would be extended 10.6 miles into Virginia Beach, almost to the municipality's oceanfront area, using right-of-way purchased from Norfolk Southern by the municipality.