Momentum grows to expand The Tide

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe is urging Virginia Beach officials to move ahead with extending The Tide light rail transit from neighboring Norfolk to the municipality, as the Virginia Beach City Council begins evaluating three proposals to aid in doing just that.

“One important issue that I did campaign on: It is time we took light rail all the way from our [Norfolk] naval base all the way to Virginia Beach,” McAuliffe told local media.

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) last September scheduled three meetings to solicit public input on extending The Tide light rail transit to serve Naval Station Norfolk (the formal name of the U.S. naval base), including options to such a plan. The Tide’s current western terminus is at Fort Norfolk/Medical Center Station, roughly 7.6 miles short of the naval base.

As for any extension east of the current Newtown Road eastern terminus, the Virginia Beach City Manager’s office Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, will outline the three plans under consideration, which offer phased extensions across the Norfolk-Virginia Beach border to the latter’s oceanfront district.

Proposals have been submitted by: Pasadena, Calif.-bases Parsons Corp.; Parsippany, N.J.-based Skanska USA Building, Inc., aided by former Hampton Roads Transit CEO Philip Shucet; and Marietta, Ga.-based American Maglev Technology.

All three proposals will be made public by month’s end if the City Council decides to accept them Tuesday. A review will follow. No deadline has been set for when, or if, any proposal would be accepted.

After rebuffing any attempts to implement LRT over a 14-year period, Virginia Beach officials a year ago approved a study to explore the financial aspects of extending The Tide into the municipality, encouraged in large measure by Virginia Beach businesses who pointed to the positive impacts offered by The Tide LRT operations in Norfolk. The Tide began revenue service in August 2011.