I originally planned to post this back on June 15th, but ended up losing my original draft. Unforeseen circumstances further delayed the publishing of this post.
On June 11, 2013, the city council of Virginia Beach voted unanimously in favor of allowing several private-party proposals to extend the Tide LRT to be considered. This step effectively opens the floodgates to any private party wishing to submit proposals to extend the line into Virginia Beach. During the past several months, with the state of the nation’s economy, and more transit districts tightening their budgets; proposals to expand transit have become more and more led by private groups, rather than government offices. This includes the All Aboard Florida intercity rail plan, which I will discuss in a later post.
With respect to the Tide LRT, a private group led by former HRT President Philip Shucet touted that they could have the proposed Virginia Beach extension built in less time and with less funds than the HRT proposal. Please keep in mind that HRT is still conducting their own studies as to how to go about the extension. However, this and other private proposals have been gaining steam during the past couple of months, and the decision made by the Virginia Beach city council will allow the council to further examine Mr. Shucet’s proposal, as well as proposals from any other private group wishing to submit their own plans.
Now keep in mind, this move is definitely appealing to some, but not obligatory in any way when it comes to which plan makes the final cut. In other words, the city council is not obliged to accept any of the private proposals. However, they will have a team of lawyers and consultants sifting through all of the the complexities associated with these proposals. Should one of the private proposals be selected however, the financial risk could be shifted away from taxpayers, which could in-turn, help ease any tension among Tea Party conservatives, who may still be against expanding LRT in Hampton Roads altogether.
If any further developments come about on this topic, I will definitely post those developments as soon as I can.