Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TPO March 17, 2010

The Transportation Planning Organization held it's March meeting this morning at The Regional Building in Chesapeake.

Dr. Alexander Metcalf of TEM, the consultant hired to help Hampton Roads land Federal High Speed Rail funding, gave an update. What he is doing has now been dubbed the "HRTPO Strategic Campaign and Vision Plan for Passenger Rail". Most intriguing is that, at the suggestion of Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), he will model using 150 mph trains on the U.S. 460 Corridor to South Hampton Roads as one of the options. All work should be done by early Summer for submission to the Federal government.

A representative of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) gave a Presentation on hurricane evacuation. Virginia has a plan for evacuating the region that would see I-64's eastbound lanes reversed for additional westbound traffic 30 hours prior to a strike. The counterflow lanes would extend from 4th View in Norfolk to I-295 east of Richmond. Before, that, supplies would be prestaged to aid the evacuation, including portajohns along the route. (Wouldn't they blow over in high winds?) However, VDOT's plan calls for closing the crossharbor tunnels once winds reach 45 m.p.h. Also, VDOT has concept designs and has budgeted preliminary engineering money for similar counterflow measures on U.S. 58. Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim noted the need for dealing with the transit-dependent in such a crisis, as they wouldn't have cars to evacuate in.

However, the court jester was Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance (VBTA) Vice Chairman/Transportation Chairman Reid Greenmun, who showed up to make a fool of himself. His complaining during Public Comments focused on two areas:

1. The composition of the recently formed Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee (CTAC):

a. Did getting passed over for an appointment shatter his delusions of grandeur?

b. He complained about the selection process being "secret". Reid has been around politics long enough that it's implausible that he doesn't know such a process is required by law to be confidential.

c. Out of one side of his mouth, he complained about the VBTA not being supplied information on applicants so it could weigh in on them. Out of the other side of his mouth, he claimed 24 of 28 were special interest representatives. If the VBTA didn't get the former information, how could it ascertain the latter?

2. The TPO has failed reply to 4 By-Laws changes the VBTA requested it make:

a. Let me point out that the recent By-Laws revisions were covered by the TPO Committee...which was dissolved once the reform process was completed.

b. What Greenmun infers is that the TPO should send a formal reply to every suggestion the VBTA sends over. Should the TPO waste Staff time on any other group in such a manner, the VBTA would be first to complain. (The Virginia Beach City Council - rightfully - ignores the monthly rants the VBTA sends it.)

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