Wednesday, December 17, 2008

MPO December 17, 2008

This morning Hampton Roads' Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) held it's December meeting.

First of all, Paul Fraim made an issue out of the name of the MPO itself. He wants one that is more descriptive of what the MPO actually does.

The headline matter of the day was the reorganization of the MPO itself. A recent Federal review hit the MPO with 11 Corrective Actions (CAs) needed. (Most reviews find only 1-2 CAs.) It had been anticipated that the MPO might act on them today. They received a consultant's report. However, their own MPO Committee wanted to move only on minor and urgent matters today, dealing with the major ones at a special meeting in February. The major areas left to tackle are Membership (including weighted voting), Advisory Committees, and the Metropolitan Planning Agreement.

One of the CAs attacked the MPO for lack of public comment allowed at meetings. 4 of us spoke this morning; you should have seen the look on the Staffer's face when I handed her two sign-up cards (one for me; one for another gentleman). Two addressed the governance matters. I spoke on Agenda Item 6, which included extending light rail both Newtown Road - Dome site and EVMS - Norfolk NOB. Reid Greenmun was one of those who spoke on governance; he got in a last minute stab at light rail. (Reid, forget that was on the agenda when you wrote your remarks?)

Speaking of which, the MPO unanimously approved $1.5 million for the LRT extensions study. The funny part: Reid Greenmun said he supported studying the EVMS - Norfolk NOB line. (That Reid would support LRT anywhere in Hampton Roads made for some laughs afterwards.)

The MPO received a Presentation on Gilmerton Bridge replacement. Doing so will require that traffic be reduced to two lanes for a considerable time, leading to much discomfort among members.

Finally, there will be an attempt to schedule a joint MPO - Hampton Roads (General Assembly) Caucus meeting on Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion. However, the holidays and the looming session will make that difficult.


Anonymous said...

First off Henry, I wasn't speaking for ME - I was speaking for the VBTA.

Secondly, instead of thanking me for stating that the VBTA supports a study to determine facts regarding a light rail line connecting the Tide to the Norfolk naval bases, you attack me? Huh? You attack those that offer support to your quest for Light Rail? That really isn't very wise.

The VBTA is not opposed to all Light Rail. The VBTA opposes wasteful spending of tax funds.

The proposed expansion of the Tide into Va Beach down the NS ROW has already produced an EIS and it was reviewed by the VBTA and it revealed that that Light Rail line produced an insufficent return on taxpayer investment to justify VBTA support.

This is why the VBTA opposes the expansion of the Tide into our city. That and the cost to taxpayers to operate and maintain such a system - especially the cost of the related feeder bus and van system and the taxpayer funded park & ride facilities that will be required.

In addition, the volume of commuter riders is far too low to justify the expense and it does nothing of significance to reduce existing traffic congestion.

Our region has much higher priority transportation NEEDS than that "want" to extend the Tide into our city.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what they said in Portland, Oregon: we don't want it; no one will ride it

Now, all trains run every 15 minutes and even then they get crowded.

Avenging Archangel said...

First of all, the van system was in the 1999 proposal. Nothing of the sort is on the table now.

The VBTA's "support" of the EVMS - Norfolk NOB line is disingenous. Given that you've called for abolishing HRT, the ploy is a ruse. You simply pretended to support the EVMS - Norfolk NOB extension to try to leverage it to kill Newtown Road - Dome site. The sheer dishonesty of it speaks volumes about you and the VBTA.

In addition, it's not an "or" question. The two extensions are packaged together and one won't be done without the other.

You continue to live in 1999. Not only was the cost $30 million/mile higher then, but neither ODU or Norfolk NOB was part of the plan. Adding those two destinations will boost Virginia Beach's numbers significantly, hopefully getting us over the bar for Federal construction funding.

Anonymous said...

Henry, I grow tired of your inaccurate attacks on my honesty. I am not the liar you attempt to paint me as, nor is the VBTA. Your insistance to keep spreading this false notion reveals your lack of truthfulness.

Further, once again you attack others that actually went on the record and supported something you wanted - the funding of an EIS to connect the Tide to the Naval bases.

You are correct that it is no longer 1999. Since then the costs related to constructing Light Rail have increased. The cost of healthcare benefits to HRT empoyees has dramatically increased.

The value of property along the NS ROW has seen a dramatic increase in costs. The cost for building parking decks has gone up.

Because the Tide is a grade level system it cannot legally be an automated train service. Had HRT or the region considered forward thinking elevated rail roughly 60% on the annual operating costs could have been reduced. Instead, outdated Light Rail was used. It requires human drivers and it requires rail cars that must be built to survive impact with surface vehicles. That drives up the cost of light rail. Grade level systems actually increase traffic congestion - and kill more citizens!

While the Feds and the state may pick up a large share of construction costs, local governments are stuck paying our millions in new costs to operate and maintain Light Rail and the feeder bus/van system.

While few are discussing the feeder bus/van system, the guy at HRT managing LRT clearly stated that the LRT will fail without a massive feeder bus/van system.

You were there - I was there, yet you now state this is not the case.

Hum, interesting. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps you simply do not recall this?

Anonymous said...


How many times do we need to tell you this area does NOT need a SkyTrain like system? We're fine with traditional light rail like Portland's MAX

Avenging Archangel said...


Talking with a few people after the MPO meeting, no one took the VBTA light rail Study endorsement seriously. To show how little credibility you have, I'll probably make that this blog's next poll question.

As for your honesty:

1. The 1999 proposal was over $69 million/mile. Norfolk's Starter Line is now Budgeted (even after increases) at $38.9 million/mile. If you're going to insist a $30 million/mile reduction is an increase, I (and everyone else) is going to call you a liar.

2. On going elevated and automated;

a. the construction cost would be several times higher.

b. you'd oppose the tax hike to pay for it.

3. You speak of "the guy at HRT managing LRT". Uh...Jayne Whitney is Senior VP of Development, heading up the project. If you look at Norfolk's Starter Line, there is no "massive" feeder bus system.

In the words of The Thompson Twins, "Lies, Lies, Lies, yeah...they're going to get you."

Anonymous said...

Still you insist on being dishonest?

Here is the quote from Homer Carter, HRT's senior vice president for operations who is paid $130,000 annually to manage light rail as well as bus service.

"One of the biggest challenges will be the integration of the existing bus transportation system in the light rail," Carter said. "Light rail is a great mode of transportation, but in order for it to be successful, you need the complementary bus system to feed into it."

Here is a link to the Pilot article:,-buses

Homer spoke at the public hearing you and I attended at the Beach Convention Center.

Anonymous said...

The more I read this blog the more I think Reid is against any and all forms of transit and doesn't give a damn about anyone else

Avenging Archangel said...

Anon 2:00,

On at least three ocassions Reid has publicly called for abolishing HRT. That's the primary reason why his feigned support of the EVMS - Norfolk NOB extension has no credibility.


First of all, Jayne Whitney, not Homer Carter, has point on LRT development.

To buy your spin, you have to believe "complementary = massive". It doesn't.

I could draw up a feeder plan with a 24-40 bus fleet. Each hybrid costs under $500,000, so it's hardly a huge expense.

Finally, once again, there's nothing "massive" about Norfolk's feeder plan. The EIS contains only two new bus routes, with increased frequencies on a few existing routes. Most of all, none of your phantom "vans".

Anonymous said...

Henry and gutless "anon" posters that snipe from behind the cyber bushes,

Like I have stated, I support intelligent uses of our tax funds.

I oppose wasteful spending.

Henry is making false claims that I am dishonest. That reveals to all his dishonesty.

His dishonesty should not surprise anyone. After all, he will do almost anything to advance his pet transit projects. That is made clear on his blog here and his vile and slanderious commentary.

Henry serves to discredit himself with his unwarrented accusation and lies.

Avenging Archangel said...

Notice that for all of Reid's whining in his 4:31 post, he doesn't refute a thing factually.

Anonymous said...


Yes or no: did you or do you call for the abolishment of HRT?

Anonymous said...

Reid, tail between your legs? You're awfully quiet

Anonymous said...


I have a busy life. No tale between my legs - just busy.

I am a Libertarian. We believe that government should be constrained to its core requirements and that the free market is the wisest and most efficient system.

HRT is a substantially taxpayer subsidized service provider.

Reducing the size of government and having private service providers compete to offer our region transportation options is preferable to the subsidy by taxpayers for HRT.

So, yes, instead of creating another government bureaucracy that embraces a business model that cannot sustain itself based on receiving its revenue from its customers, I support putting the contract for transit services out to competitive bid and broker the best deal we can.


I used plenty of facts to make my point. I simply factually deconstructed your dishonest attempts to obfuscate, change words, create straw man arguments and generally squirm and twist to attempt to somehow explain your incorrect assertion that the proposed light rail line from Newtown Road, down the NS ROW and terminating near the Virginia Beach oceanfront is a “need”. It is not. It is a want. And there is no requirement that our local taxpayers and government must provide and subsidize light rail.

Avenging Archangel said...

You did what, Reid? You were so unnerved by the exchange that you posted in the wrong thread. ("Want" vs. "Need" was in the No Referendum thread.)

Anonymous said...

If you're Libertarian like Russell, explain why he uses buses even though he's supposed to (quoting you) "... believe that government should be constrained to its core requirements and that the free market is the wisest and most efficient system."

Avenging Archangel said...

Reid's dogmatic rant misses on two important facts:

1. One of HRT's predecessors, TRT, began as a private company. Within 3 years a government takeover was necessary.

2. There is no profit in mass transit. Therefore, who would want to bid on it?

Russell voted Libertarian. Gary Dubour, Norfolk's other UCAC member, is a Libertarian who realizes that mass transit is a service that needs to stay in government hands.

Jessica, keep arguing with Reid about how his bid out system would work. I have before, and you'll realize that his ideological litmus test would never work in the real world.