Wednesday, March 18, 2009

MPO March 18, 2009

This morning was the March meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Hampton Roads' Federally-mandated Transportation planning board.

The matter taking the most time was the need to endorse lists of projects for Federal stimulus money. $41 million in regional projects were selected, then a list for the region's share of statewide stimulus money. The hangup was what to do with Phase II of The Third Crossing: while it looks good as a competitive project, technically it's ineligible for the state list in that it's not in the region's Long Range Plan.

Great news for those of us in Virginia Beach:

1. 14 new hybrid buses to complete trolley replacement are on the statewide list.

2. $6 million to fund the AA/DEIS for the light rail extension package of Newtown Road - Dome site and EVMS - Norfolk NOB was given initial approval without objection.

Groundbreaking was that $18.1 million of the statewide list is for mass transit needs. Traditionally such Federal apportionments go exclusively for roads. It signals a sea change in thinking at the MPO, as the region's leadership realizes better mass transit is essential.

VDOT gave a briefing on it's restructuring forced by fiscal stress.

Finally, kudos to the Staff at The Regional Building. After assuming everyone wants to drink coffee at the previous MPO meetings I went to, they did offer tea this morning. (Ever had French Vanilla tea?)

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