NORFOLK, Virginia (WAVY) – After several years of training, Hampton Roads Transit believes the best way to connect Norfolk’s largest employer and existing light rail system is with a small extension and a new concept in the region called a high-speed bus.
A recommendation for a two-stage plan that will eventually connect Norfolk Naval Station with Miltar Circle and possibly the Greenbrier district of Chesapeake through a rapid transit system was presented to Norfolk City Council on Friday during their retreat.
Planners from HRT said it would not only rebuild communities, but could also reduce traffic in some of the busiest places in the region.
The existing 7.3-mile light rail system now runs from the East Virginia Medical Center complex to Newtown Road on the Norfolk-Virginia Beach border.
Phase 1 of the recommended plan, long ridiculed as a “light rail to nowhere”, involves extending The Tide – Norfolk’s light rail system – two miles to Sentara Leigh Hospital and the military circle.
Ray Amoruso, HRT’s director of planning and development, told the city council that this would give light rail transport a stronger anchor.
“Those who live east of [Interstate] 64. There is no passability to the reconstruction zone of the military highway. The light rail provides this correction, ”Amoruso said.
However, trying to continue the line to Norfolk Naval Station, where 60,000 to 70,000 people travel every day, years of research found that treadmills there are not worth $ 1 billion.
So Amoruso said they are looking to create a high-speed bus service, not unlike the Richmond Pulse system.
Racers will still get on the bus, but they will get on station platforms, similar to light rail tracks, and ride on their dedicated lanes.
Phase II of the HRT recommendation is to build a high-speed bus service from Norfolk Naval Station to Summit Pointe, a new multi-purpose building where Dollar Tree is headquartered in Chesapeake.
“We’re going to ask for suggestions this spring to do research to find out what’s the most sensible thing about Summit Point in Greenbury,” Amoruso said. “Shall we run it to Greenbrayer Parkway? Shall we run it to Battlefield Boulevard? How to get to the Military Highway? ”
He said that the key place is where high-speed transit and high-speed bus meet – on the Military Circle.
In the spring Norfolk City Council can choose your preferred developer transform the area from a declining regional shopping center into a planned community with an arena of 15,000 seats.
“How nice it would be to connect all this with modern public transport,” Amoruso said.
However, there are at least eight years left before construction. Amoruso said very preliminary estimates of the project are $ 300 million. But he said the federal government could take away 51% of the costs.
According to him, what should happen this year is the vote of the city council to apply for state funding for the Smart Scale.
The whole system can work until 2033.