The Transportation Planning Organization (TPO), the region's Federally-mandated transportation planning board, met today.
There was fun over the Consent Agenda. Three of the items involved shuffling funds that the state is now trying to audit as part of the "Look under the sofa cushions" campaign. VDOT obviously objected. Eventually a compromise was reached where the transfers were approved, but the money not authorized to be moved until June 30.
A Briefing was held on transportation focus groups that had been held. Chris Bonney had been Facilitator of the groups, with Dr. Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University (CNU) giving the Presentation to the TPO. First, citizens feel government officials aren't acting on the problem. Second, they want something done, with interim steps that are tangible. Third, (I can't resist this!) one of the Perceived Solutions was "There must be a well-coordinated, regional light rail system supported by an extensive and regular network of buses, shuttles and other feeders and distributors." There will be a second Presentation at a subsequent meeting details proposed solutions.
There was a Presentation on High Speed Rail. The proposed four step approach would haul 1.24 passengers annually at Step 1 (79 mph trains), climbing to 4.8 million passengers annually at Step 4 (150 mph trains on the Southside, 110 mph on the Peninsula). In ongoing talks over upgrading U.S. 460, it is being sought to reserve a dedicated rail right-of-way for eventual 150 mph trains.
Finally, the Staff's weighting recommendations for ranking transportation projects on the economic vitality portion were tabled for one month. The final prioritization matrix is slated to be enacted at the July TPO meeting.