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Norfolk -Virginia Beach Corridor

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Norfolk-Virginia Beach Corridor

Norfolk, Virginia

(November 1996)


The Norfolk-Virginia Beach Corridor has been and continues to be an area of significant growth in the Hampton Roads region. One hundred thousand people commute into the city of Norfolk and 30,000 into Virginia Beach every day from outside those communities. Virginia Beach Boulevard and Route 44/I-264 exceed capacity at many locations with traffic forecast to grow by another 87 percent on Route 44 by the year 2015. Other important issues within the corridor include potential economic development opportunities and increased mobility for transit dependent populations.


The Tidewater Transportation District Commission (TTDC) recently completed a Major Investment Study (MIS), which evaluated the feasibility of implementing various transportation alternatives, including passenger rail service, within the 30-mile corridor extending from Virginia Beach to downtown Norfolk and the Norfolk Naval Base. Alternatives considered included No Build, Congestion Management System, Enhanced Bus, and Light Rail Transit (LRT). In May 1996, LRT was selected as the Locally Preferred Alternative by the TTDC.

The Virginia Beach City Council is scheduled to endorse LRT in December 1996. The Metropolitan Planning Organization is scheduled to endorse the selection of LRT as the Locally Preferred Alternative in January 1997. The current schedule anticipates initiation of Preliminary Engineering and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PE/DEIS) in June 1997. Although the MIS focused specifically on the Norfolk- Virginia Beach corridor, the next stage of development will include the selection of the alignment to the Norfolk Navel Base, as well as service to the airport.

Congress has not authorized or appropriated funds for this corridor.


Mobility Improvements - The LRT system in this corridor will serve 14 of the top 20 activity centers in South Hampton Roads. Service to the Norfolk Naval Base is an important component of the system, as well as service to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and Downtown Norfolk, where extensive redevelopment activities are underway or planned. TTDC estimates that the LRT alternative would increase daily transit trips in the year 2015 to 32,000-39,000 (compared to 18,500-22,000 for the No Build alternative) and annual transit trips to 10.23 million (compared to 5.77 million for the No Build alternative). Transit mode share for work trips from downtown Norfolk to the Pembroke area in Virginia Beach increases from 3.4 percent for the No Build alternative to 17.5 percent for the LRT alternative and from 2.1 percent to 11.1 percent respectively, for total trips.

Cost Effectiveness - The cost effectiveness index for the LRT alternative is $9 per new rider compared to the No Build alternative, and $10 compared to the Congestion Management System alternative.

Environmental Benefits - The Hampton Roads region is a marginal non-attainment area for ozone. The LRT alternative would decrease annual automobile VMT by 35.0 million, compared to the No Build alternative. In addition, the LRT alternative utilizes the existing Norfolk Southern railroad right-of-way, thus minimizing environmental impacts.

Operating Efficiencies - The systemwide operating cost per passenger in year 2015 (1995 dollars) is estimated to be $2.18 for the LRT alternative compared to $2.36 for the No Build alternative (current system and scheduled program improvements through 1998).


The TTDC prepared a Financial Analysis Report to examine funding scenarios to implement the LRT alternative. One capital funding scenario is based on a 35 percent Federal share ($158.3 million) from Section 5309 New Start funds and additional funding from flexible funding categories. State and local sources would each provide approximately $110 million. Funding for annual operating costs is assumed to be shared equally by the state and local governments, or approximately $5.5 million each. The funding options examined for the non-federal share include motor fuels tax and general retail sales tax. State legislation permits the establishment of a regional sales tax on motor fuels by a Transportation District Commission. (Two districts in Virginia currently have this authority.) TTDC has pursued dedicated regional funding through the Virginia legislature for several years to establish similar regional taxing authority. A Statewide Legislative Study Commission was also formed in 1996 to evaluate transportation needs and recommend new funding sources at the state level for the 1998 Virginia General Assembly Session.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Appropriations to Date
Section 5309 New Starts $131.80 $0.00 million appropriated through FY 1997
STP $16.60 N/A
CMAQ $9.90 N/A
State and Local:
Total Funds $218.20


Total: $376.50

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Totals may not add due to rounding.

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