Virginia Beach City Council voted in favor of a public referendum for Light Rail



This is a big step forward since there was a previous referendum in 1999 that was voted down. I was among the testifiers at the council hearing vote the night of April 24, 2012. There were speakers for and against at the hearing. A primary theme of the nay sayers was that they wanted to delay the referendum until after a feasibility study was completed toward the end of 2012. Some of my remarks follow:

All the while I have pursued my livelihood as an architect I have continued to see myself as something of a city planning thinker. The principle of NEW URBANISM is what I stand for and why I speak for what I believe is the single most important regional opportunity for the future of New Urbanism in Hampton Roads, extending the Tide Light Rail into Virginia Beach.

The opportunity is about what and where to spend public funds for transportation improvements: ROADS ONLY or LIGHT RAIL as well as ROADS

As I see it – We could continue to spend tax revenue exclusively on improving roads and highways….

We could continue
extending highways and enlarging tunnels that inevitably become clogged with ever greater numbers of automobiles (contributing to air pollution, traffic accidents and lost time commuting)

We could continue
consuming vast amounts of vacant land for more and wider roads, thereby creating the need for further expenditures of tax monies to handle storm water runoff, landscape maintenance and noise separation barriers

We could continue
promoting low-density residential developments of architectural monotony, encouraging “look alike” subdivisions of single-family units separated by individual driveways with cars parked in front yards

We can continue
developing automobile oriented shopping centers surrounded by acres and acres of pavement that require a car to reach

I believe the public knows better than many transportation planning administrators and industry stockholders that would have us spend all our transportation tax monies on subsidizing the future dependence on the automobile. I believe it is folly to imagine a future that can sustain ever greater numbers of automobiles and the availability of an unlimited supply of fossil fuels to operate them.

I believe the citizens of Virginia Beach are anxious to vote for a chance to have a choice in future for Light Rail as an alternative to automobileland.

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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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