The alternative to extending Light Rail now is a Grim Tale



Light Rail “nay sayers” have a view of the future that our choice is between (1) more and wider roads, or (2) a fixed rail link between regional communities that is likely to run in the red for the near term.

Choice (1) is folly since building roads destroys the environment and fossil fuels will inevitably run out for our private cars to drive on them. More roads also spreads out the population settlement pattern that in turn requires even more roads, greater destruction of the environment, more pollution and further commuting congestion and community separation.

Choice (2) will run in the red until settlement patterns catch up with the regional vision of the future. Light rail is expensive and requires investment at the earliest opportunity for a sustainable future.

I was charmed with the photo of the front page of the Hampton Roads section of the Virginian Pilot this morning.  Imagine, three private proposals for extending the TIDE light rail from Norfolk into Virginia Beach.  What a bright future there could be in the future of Hampton Roads. 
tide_photo
The reason that the smaller metropolitan area of Charlotte, NC already has light rail serving its commuter population could be because the political leadership there is operating with a vision of itself as a cohesive regional economy, rather than a balkanized satellite cities competing for a separate piece of action. 

It seems to me there are regional transportation investments that could make a huge difference in the future growth of Hampton Roads towards becoming the regional economy that it deserves to be: (1) an expanded commuter Light Rail system, and (2) an expanded nationally focused airport with its own designated airline Hub.

Earlier this week Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe included mention of his support for extending light rail to Virginia Beach: “One important issue that I did campaign on — it is time we took light rail all the way from our naval base all the way to Virginia Beach.”

It is worth a chuckle to see the photo of Kerry Dougherty, at the top of her column, overshadowed by the banner image of The TIDE rail car along with the headline: “A Chance of Train at the Beach.”  As if to say, “Kerry, you missed the train,” with her non-supportive  commentaries, completely misunderstanding the opportunity that light rail means for the region of Hampton Roads.

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One Response to “The alternative to extending Light Rail now is a Grim Tale”

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  1. G2atD4 says:

    This is a great article on the importance of light rail and the benefits of connecting the airport to the convention centers of all the cities.

    http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2013/11/report-cities-with-rail-to-airport-connection-boost-hotel-revenue.aspx

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  • GREGORY M. FRECH

    Urban Underbelly is a blog that seeks to share the back stories of successes and struggles in achieving the visions of New Urbanism, especially in Hampton Roads, Virginia

    New Urbanism: is a city planning and architecture movement directed at the creation and restoration of vibrant neighborhood places: centralized, sustainable, walkable and socially diverse.
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