Monday, April 28, 2014

Virginia Beach, state reach LRT accord

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Light rail transit, and not urban maglev service, is the more likely transit development for Virginia Beach, Va., following an informal agreement reached late last week between the city's mayor and the state's secretary of transportation.

The seacoast city has balked at developing light rail transit for 15 years while neighboring Norfolk, Va., proceeded in establishing The Tide, a 7.4-mile LRT line which opened in August 2011 and whose eastern terminus is located just short of the city's border with Virginia Beach.

State Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne told local media, "I think both sides understand in principle where the state has to be in order to participate." Under an adjusted compromise plan, cost of a $290 million extension of The Tide would be split evenly, with Virginia Beach covering any cost overruns above that estimate.

As part of the agreement, Virginia Beach will dismiss three public-private proposals under review and put the project out for a competitive bid.

The state of Virginia earlier had said it would help fund LRT expansion, but not maglev development. The compromise now in place technically allows the city to explore other modal options once a Record of Decision is made on the LRT extension. The state still has no plans to fund any maglev development, however.