No Light Rail Virginia Beach

No Light Rail Virginia Beach

We asked representatives from both sides of the light rail issue to give five reasons supporting their positions in Tuesday’s non binding referendum: “Should City Council of Virginia cheap jerseys Beach spend local funds to extend Light Rail from Norfolk to Town Center in Virginia Beach?” // John Atkinson is head of , advocating for a “No” vote. You can read the pro side here. Charlotte is a major transportation crossroads, a major world urban financial center, has a thriving economy and 2,600 people per square mile, surrounded by unlimited land for future growth. Virginia Beach is a low density suburban cul de sac with 905 people per square mile, and has no land for future growth.

Light rail is a product of its growth, not the reason for it. Virginia Beach is a city with low crime, good schools, excellent roads and a beach. What does light rail offer us, other than another bill to pay?

1. Utilization: Hampton Roads Transit estimates 1,100 daily commuters in 2034. That’s 0.3 percent of our population. Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said: “The Tide will not move people or eliminate congestion.” Why spend $243 million for a service our citizens don’t need or want?

2. Subsidy: Norfolk pays HRT $9 million annually to keep The Tide running. Virginia Beach will do the same. Dividing $9 million by 1,100 daily commuters equals an annual subsidy of $8,100 per commuter.

Why would we want to attract residents to our community who require a $8,100 taxpayer subsidy to get to work?

3. Strategic growth areas: Redevelopment of the Cleveland Street/Interstate 264 corridor is now the goal. The Town Center urban area is their model. Town Center condominiums have lost more than 40 percent of their original assessed value. There is no demand for this type of housing.

If attempted, it would disrupt 300 businesses, and probably disperse them from Virginia Beach, because there is no where they can relocate that offers the synergy they currently enjoy. Why step back 40 years and destroy 300 businesses located in this city?

3. Economic growth: Old Dominion University economist James Koch says claims of economic growth from light rail are gross exaggerations. Example: ADP moved 1,800 jobs, averaging $37,000 a year, from New Jersey to Norfolk. The clincher wasn’t light rail. It was empty office buildings, cheap labor and $13,000 in incentives per job.

Virginia Beach doesn’t have large empty office buildings, nor a large pool of cheap labor, and I hope our economic development people are seeking jobs paying a lot more than $37,000 a year. Virginia Beach’s biggest recent economic development is Town Center. It was built without light rail. Why does it need it now?

5. Cost: The latest cost estimate is $243 million. The City Council’s “tide tax,” $45 per $250,000 of assessed value, will pay the $9 million anticipated annual loss. Why build an expensive toy that only 1,100 residents will use after 25 years?

The pro side claims light rail is almost free, would transport tens of thousands, eliminate congestion, reduce pollution, redevelop, attract millennials, and create an urban lifestyle. The only claim they haven’t made is that it will grow hair.

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