Tuesday, August 10, 2010

9 Points LRT Opponents Don't Get

I give to you 9 basic points light rail opponents don't get or are in denial of. Next time one of them wants to rant against LRT, hit them over the head with the following list. Maybe you'll knock some sense into them:

1. Under Virginia Beach's current and previous Comprehensive Plans, the Strategic Growth Areas (SGAs) have already been zoned for urban redevelopment. Legally, we can't go back and downzone them. (Ask Loudoun County.) We passed the point of no return when the previous Comp Plan was adopted in December, 2003.

When an opponent starts extolling "suburban living" when you bring up LRT, give them the old New England line that "You can't get there from here." We have no choice legally but to redevelop the SGAs.

2. By the TPO's projection, virtually the entire region's interstate network will be severely congested (Grades E or F) by 2030. Even that bleak forecast is based on all the projects in the 2030 Plan being in place by then, which isn't going to happen.

When people tell you no one will ride light rail, let them know smart commuters will within a generation.

3. What few transportation dollars that are available at both the Federal and state levels are dedicated mass transit funds, not roads money.

4. The last two administrations in Richmond have been pushing Hampton Roads towards a multimodal transportation system, realizing our primary problem is our transportation model. Our region is 6th most dependent in the country on cars, which is unsustainable.

5. Building additional arterial roads would require bulldozing through subdivisions, which is neither cost-effective nor politically survivable. We can't depend on further asphalt alone, but rather have to reexamine our transportation model.

6. Housing costs and availability are putting a squeeze on blue collar families. Letting them become one car households aids their budgets and takes cars off the road for those who wish to or must drive.

7. We face Federal emissions sanctions. Emissions from light rail are where the electric is generated, not here in Hampton Roads. If nuclear-generated electricity, there are virtually no emissions.

8. Given that the money and power behind light rail is a mountain compared to the 31st Street mole hill, why do opponents delude themselves into believing they can stop it with an advisory referendum question? Even if they got it on the ballot, it would be overridden.

9. If we don't do light rail, what would the opponents propose to tackle the problems it's designed to? Until they have an alternative plan of specifics (not just hollow generalities), they shouldn't be taken seriously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You make several great points. The VBTA breakfast bunch are trying to make this a conservative vs liberal issue.

They fail to realize that one of their favorites, Thelma Drake, is a big supporter. As are many other right-wingers.

There is no road money. We can grab the transit money or let another region get it. But don't be deluded to think that us not getting the money will mean it won't be spent somewhere else.