On Thursday the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (TDCHR) held it's monthly meeting. The TDCHR is the governing body of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT).
The TDCHR unanimously voted to condemn a 333 square foot land area for a drainage easement on the Norfolk light rail Starter Line project. The land is part of a rented house. The land is appraised at $4,600, but the owner is demanding (get this!) $51,000. Why $51,000? The house is assessed at $136,000, while the owner's best offer to sell has been $85,000. Therefore, the owner is trying to claim he's suffered $51,000 in damages from light rail and wants HRT to pay.
About two-thirds of the land is beyond the house's fence, a wooded area between the fence and the railroad right-of-way. One Commissioner joked, "I have a 330 foot easement to sell you for $49,000."
BRAMBLETON AVENUE STATION
The TDCHR agreed to move the proposed Brambleton Avenue Station on Norfolk's Starter Line at a cost of $1.45 million. Norfolk State University (NSU) had expressed paranoia-er, concerns about the station's placement. It will now be over Brambleton, with an elevator and stairs down on the west side of the street. That immediately raised concerns about NSU students trying to cross six lanes of traffic on Brambleton to get to the station.
Randy Wright pointed out that Brambleton contract (Contract 20) had originally been over $2 million under budget, so with the Change Order it was still more than $500,000 under budget.
OTHER LIGHT RAIL
Portsmouth has wanted light rail through the planned second tube of the Midtown Tunnel. HB 6028 brought Virginia Beach in. Our latest entrant: Chesapeake has begun preliminary talks with HRT about light rail.
The big Virginia Beach news of the day was that Norfolk now has publicly agreed to a EVMS to Navy base EIS in conjunction with Virginia Beach's Newtown Road to the Dome site. First, it accepts Virginia Beach's position that it doesn't want to proceed without such an extension. Second, by bringing the Navy base and Old Dominion University (ODU) online, you enhance the projected numbers for the Virginia Beach extension. Congratulations to both cities for the cooperation in getting it all done.
Virginia Beach Vision has formed a task force to work on the light rail issue. Councilman Jim Wood (one of Virginia Beach's HRT Commissioners) was scheduled to meet with them later Thursday afternoon.
Paul Riddick expressed concern that Virginia Beach might punt light rail to referendum again.