BIG NIGHT TONIGHT in Virginia Beach

The existing Tide LRT Line in Norfolk, VA travels from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center to Newtown Rd. Two studies are currently in progress to extend both termini. Photo taken by HARTride 2012. April, 2013.
Will the Virginia Beach City County select The Tide extension to Town Center as the “Locally Preferred Alternative”? Or will it be Oceanfront? That decision will be made tonight. – Photo Credit: HARTride 2012.

It all comes down to this…

Tonight, the Virginia Beach City Council is expected to select the “Locally Preferred Alternative” (or LPA) for the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study. The council is also slated to ratify next year’s city budget at tonight’s meeting, which currently includes $20 million dollars for the light rail extension plan.

So far, most of the council seems to be supportive of Mayor Will Sessoms’ proposed budget changes, which also includes a four percent increase for city workers and teachers. Transit advocates and supporters have been fighting hard to make sure that the council moves in a direction that will allow light rail to be extended into Virginia Beach. On the line right now is a state-proposed deal that would have them pay for roughly half the cost of extending The Tide, which currently terminates at the Virginia Beach/Norfolk city limits, to Town Center. The city would be responsible for taking up the remainder of the costs.

Many rail haters meanwhile have been chastising the council, claiming that the light rail extension is part of the reason for a planned tax hike that is to take effect in 2016 and that money can be better spent elsewhere. Many Tea Party activists and insiders have been clamoring that Bus Rapid Transit is a far cheaper and economical alternative to light rail, and that the council should either go that route, or not build anything at all.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6PM at the Virginia Beach City Council Chambers, 2401 Courthouse Drive, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 23456.

You can view tonight’s agenda through the city council’s website.

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