Today the Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), Hampton Roads' Federally-mandated transportation planning board, held it's January meeting.
There were three speakers under Public Comment: a representative from the Sierra Club opposing funding transportation through offshore drilling revenues, a gentleman from Norfolk on light rail and high speed rail, and myself on the proposed fast ferry service. The Consent Agenda was passed unanimously.
The big issue of the day was hiring a consultant to help Hampton Roads land high speed rail service. Staff and a candidate are close on terms; Staff needed authorization to close the deal. Falling one vote short on the original tally, the James City County representative then changed his vote to allow it to pass. The sticking point was whether or not this was being railroaded (pun intended), but the region faces a looming Federal deadline.
As for fast ferry service, a private company wants to operate it as a public-private partnership. A Presentation was given to the TPO, as designation from the TPO is necessary to acquire Federal ferry-designated money. Five destinations are on the radar screen: Norfolk's Waterside, Hampton City Dock, Newport News Victory Landing, and Fort Eustis. Service would begin in 2012 with a single route (probably Norfolk - Hampton), two routes in 2013, building up to 5 in 2015. They had been looking at Naval Station Norfolk, but the Navy Liaison stated Department of Defense regulations would preclude that. (Wouldn't that drop Fort Eustis, too?) Other destinations may later be considered.
My own disappointment was looking at the photos of the vessel: a large cabin below, but I couldn't make out any seating on the deck. I'd love to be up there as the ferry crosses the harbor at 30 knots.
Finally, the TPO Retreat will be on February 10 at 11:30 A.M. (The HRPDC Retreat will be at 9:30.) Note that this will be the second Wednesday rather than the normal third Wednesday.