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NFKjeff

Bruce Thompson asks Commonwealth for study on regional mega-airport.

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VB developer Bruce Thompson is asking the Commonwealth to do a new study on building a regional mega-airport, probably along the US 460 corridor. The last study was done 15 years ago, but did not include the Richmond MSA. Thompson makes some great points.

http://southsidedaily.com/2016/06/01/virginia-beach-developer-requests-study-of-mega-airport-for-hampton-roads-richmond/

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I'm intrigued by the concept of HR and RVA merging, as has been suggested. I think an area this size needs a larger airport presence...I just don't know if 460 is the right location, esp. if you want to lure more companies.

I dunno if an airport that's close to an hour from downtown Norfolk (add 15 minutes for Town Center) helps. I imagine it would be the same distance from downtown Richmond. Most major airports I know of are 20-30 minutes tops from the region's downtown, either by car or rail...I'm basing this off trips to Dallas, STL and LA.

Bowers Hill or the area near Suffolk Executive Airport, off 58 are good spots, IMO. Is there any reason they couldn't use the original Norfolk Airport terminal, and upgrade/expand that to improve our airport presence?

Edited by BFG

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An airport that's about equidistant from both Richmond and Norfolk would basically be between Waverly and Wakefield on the 460 corridor. If that is the end goal, there are a TON of infrastructure improvements that have to be completed to make this feasible. 460 would probably have to be upgraded to an interstate. Commuter rail between VB-Norfolk-Richmond would be a good idea due to the distance between the metro areas and the airport. Other rail improvements, to ensure this can be a major airport for shipping goods (since if it was off 460 it would have a direct rail connection to all the ports of South Hampton Roads), and with this probable increase in traffic other improvements to help make sure Amtrak can continue to run through the region would be good as well. Water crossings from this area to the Peninsula would either have to be upgraded or added.

We're talking about a probably multi-billion dollar project, and it would represent a kind of power play by the Virginia government putting a lot of their eggs in the "Richmond-Hampton Roads Mega Region" basket. It would have to contend with major airport hubs like Washington-Dulles and Charlotte Douglas International immediately in an already crowded airspace at a time not ideal for air-travel. I'm not certain how much it'd positively affect Richmond and South Hampton Roads directly, but it could make the Port of Virginia one of the most important on the East Coast, especially if the Craney Island/Patriots Crossing improvements can move along at a faster pace.

To say the least, it's an interesting project to follow.

Edited by Arctic_Tern

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1 hour ago, Arctic_Tern said:

An airport that's about equidistant from both Richmond and Norfolk would basically be between Waverly and Wakefield on the 460 corridor. If that is the end goal, there are a TON of infrastructure improvements that have to be completed to make this feasible. 460 would probably have to be upgraded to an interstate. Commuter rail between VB-Norfolk-Richmond would be a good idea due to the distance between the metro areas and the airport. Other rail improvements, to ensure this can be a major airport for shipping goods (since if it was off 460 it would have a direct rail connection to all the ports of South Hampton Roads), and with this probable increase in traffic other improvements to help make sure Amtrak can continue to run through the region would be good as well. Water crossings from this area to the Peninsula would either have to be upgraded or added.

We're talking about a probably multi-billion dollar project, and it would represent a kind of power play by the Virginia government putting a lot of their eggs in the "Richmond-Hampton Roads Mega Region" basket. It would have to contend with major airport hubs like Washington-Dulles and Charlotte Douglas International immediately in an already crowded airspace at a time not ideal for air-travel. I'm not certain how much it'd positively affect Richmond and South Hampton Roads directly, but it could make the Port of Virginia one of the most important on the East Coast, especially if the Craney Island/Patriots Crossing improvements can move along at a faster pace.

To say the least, it's an interesting project to follow.

I believe you are correct on all counts. This would be a massive investment. I look at NC and see the investments in infrastructure which they make, which have paid off big-time. It was announced recently in Charlotte that CLT (Charlotte Douglas) will be undergoing a $2.5B 10 year upgrade starting later this year.

NC is also working on I-87 from Raleigh to Hampton Roads in order to have a significant presence in the Port of Hampton Roads. This will help their ability to attract more manufacturing, and more air-freight business. 

I wish the Commonwealth was as pro-active at utilizing the powerful assets within it's own borders. The fiscally conservative philosophy of "pay-as-you-go" may well keep a government or business in the black, but often it prevents growth and limits potential. There has to be some sensible middle ground.

Edited by NFKjeff

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This is very "if you build it, they will come" type thinking which is not gonna happen at $2.4billion a pop. There are airports that are small and dismal for the amount of traffic they handle and they are totally overcrowded (think Newark, LAX, JFK). ORF has capacity to spare and I don't see that building an airport in the middle of nowhere is going to make our region more attractive. Norfolk-VB is a small market located within a 4 hour drive to two massive international airports (IAD and BWI to a lesser extent). The study done 15 years ago was also done before airports changed how the operate. 

Instead of wasting money on a study about building an airport that is unusable to everyone, I'd like to see that money go to maybe getting some more airlines into ORF, even if for a seasonal service. Spirit sucks but might bring down prices. Maybe even something off the wall like Norwegian Air flights to the Caribbean or second tier European cities or Frontier to the west coast. 
 

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There is a lot of empty space in between HR and RVA. Maybe when the suburbs of both regions get closer together then this would be a good idea but until then i think its a hard pass. 

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On 6/13/2016 at 5:51 PM, Virginia City said:

There is a lot of empty space in between HR and RVA. Maybe when the suburbs of both regions get closer together then this would be a good idea but until then i think its a hard pass. 

Agreed, I don't see any reason for this to be up for discussion even. The fact is that the metro areas aren't particularly close to one another. Fort Eustis (pretty close to the northern tip of Newport News, thus the tip of Hampton Roads) is 57.5 miles from Richmond Airport (pretty much the East End of Richmond's metro area). The Baltimore/Washington comparisons are actually pretty ridiculous. Anyone looking to make a BWI comparison should realize you're talking apples and oranges. For starters, BWI is primarily Baltimore's airport, not Washington's (despite the name). Washington has Reagan and Dulles already. Second, even if BWI were to service both, the two locations are MUCH closer together than Hampton Roads and Richmond. Nationals Park is less than 38 miles from Camden Yards for instance and both stadiums are legitimate center city locations. In other words, the CENTERS of Baltimore and Washington are substantially closer together than the EDGES of Hampton Roads and Richmond.

The distance between city center Richmond (I used the State Capitol Building) and "city" center Hampton Roads (I used Norfolk Scope) is almost 100 miles. 98 to be exact. In other words, we have two distinct regions with the need for two distinct airports. Combining them to one mega airport would make the area LESS attractive to business travelers and tourists alike.

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This proposal is a Hampton Roads-centric interest and I doubt the study would carry much political weight beyond the region, IMO.  A Hampton Roads businessman interest is proposing this because Norfolk's airport can't be expanded anymore and its relatively old. Richmond has a relatively new airport concourse, land expansion capability, easy transportation access, and is 10-miles from downtown. I don't think the Richmond area residents or businessmen would have much incentive to travel through a brand new airport much further away from the city, but we are added to the discussion because a Norfolk businessman doesn't have an argument to study it without including the Richmond market.

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54 minutes ago, vaceltic said:

This proposal is a Hampton Roads-centric interest and I doubt the study would carry much political weight beyond the region, IMO.  A Hampton Roads businessman interest is proposing this because Norfolk's airport can't be expanded anymore and its relatively old. Richmond has a relatively new airport concourse, land expansion capability, easy transportation access, and is 10-miles from downtown. I don't think the Richmond area residents or businessmen would have much incentive to travel through a brand new airport much further away from the city, but we are added to the discussion because a Norfolk businessman doesn't have an argument to study it without including the Richmond market.

Agreed. This is a move that is looking to basically get Hampton Roads in on the game that Richmond is already in on. Richmond has precisely ZERO incentive to join forces (if the areas were as close together as Baltimore and Washington, maybe they would.. but not as far apart as they are).

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So...assuming this gets shot down, which it prolly is, what options exist for HR to build a larger airport, which is needed? I think Oceana was proposed had that closed a few years ago (thankfully, it didn't).

Does Newport News Airport have enough room for expansion? Bowers Hill/Suffolk Executive (off 58)? The latter is only about 10 or 15 minutes from downtown, and is close to three major roads.

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8 hours ago, BFG said:

So...assuming this gets shot down, which it prolly is, what options exist for HR to build a larger airport, which is needed? I think Oceana was proposed had that closed a few years ago (thankfully, it didn't).

Does Newport News Airport have enough room for expansion? Bowers Hill/Suffolk Executive (off 58)? The latter is only about 10 or 15 minutes from downtown, and is close to three major roads.

Newport News is also about maxed out on space, but I think Suffolk Executive would be a good place to start.It's close enough to downtown Norfolk and Chesapeake and even Virginia Beach isn't too far. The fact that Norfolk International is so close to the city is more the exception to the rule.Heck, it's within 10 miles of two different "downtowns". But an airport midway between Richmond/Hampton Roads would be much further than usual.

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4 hours ago, BFG said:

Bruce Thompson offers an op-ed as to why this should be considered. He makes good points, but I'm still not sold on that location, considering it's an hour from the strip.

http://pilotonline.com/inside-business/expert-column-bruce-thompson-any-talk-of-mega-region-requires/article_12adc420-e4f7-547c-9ce6-d137e7d0c142.html

I'm curious however I agree that it would offer no benefit to Richmond. Even the way he describes the project makes it sound like it's solely meant for the Hampton Roads. 

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6 hours ago, BFG said:

Bruce Thompson offers an op-ed as to why this should be considered. He makes good points, but I'm still not sold on that location, considering it's an hour from the strip.

http://pilotonline.com/inside-business/expert-column-bruce-thompson-any-talk-of-mega-region-requires/article_12adc420-e4f7-547c-9ce6-d137e7d0c142.html

He lost me at Richmond to Oceanfront mega-region initiative. Richmond is a two hour drive to the oceanfront. That's like trying to combine Baltimore and Philadelphia into one mega-region (Richmond to the Oceanfront is 108 miles compared to the 106 miles from Baltimore to Philly). Or Richmond and Washington DC (109 miles). 

Not to be a Debbie-Downer, but this conversation is frankly a bit ridiculous. Richmond and Hampton Roads are two distinct areas. There is over 50 miles between the northwest-tip of Hampton Roads and the Eastern tip of Richmond.

 

Edited by HRVT
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 If a billion dollars mega-region airport is built in the middle of nowhere, he concludes airlines would provide more direct flights for Eastern Virginia?. This is the same weak 'if you build it they will come' argument used over and over again for large infrastructure projects (stadiums, convention centers, etc.).

I am curious what the old study concluded. Anyone know where to find the old study?

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15 hours ago, blopp1234 said:

I'm curious however I agree that it would offer no benefit to Richmond. Even the way he describes the project makes it sound like it's solely meant for the Hampton Roads. 

Not really, this is meant to be a cooperative project to combine the economic strengths of the two regions together to compete against areas like the Research Triangle. If you look at this as a project that takes away from one region and benefits the other, you're missing the point.

Edit: I should also add that I'm not too sold on that location either, kind of in the middle of nowhere, but it only serves as a compromise location between the two regions

Edited by RVA-Is-The-Best

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1 hour ago, RVA-Is-The-Best said:

Not really, this is meant to be a cooperative project to combine the economic strengths of the two regions together to compete against areas like the Research Triangle. If you look at this as a project that takes away from one region and benefits the other, you're missing the point.

Edit: I should also add that I'm not too sold on that location either, kind of in the middle of nowhere, but it only serves as a compromise location between the two regions

That is how I read the article, however I do think the article in Inside Business did a better job of communicating.

It is interesting that you mentioned the Research Triangle area as NC is pushing hard to implement I-87 (Raleigh-Norfolk.) They definitely want a convenient route to the Ports of VA. I-87 might take 20 years to build, so too might any airport. NC already has two 1st. tier airports in RDU and CLT. The presence of such an airport would be a game changer in regards to development, but it is debatable if either Richmond or Hampton Roads would warrant, or could develop such infrastructure on it's own.

This region could develop a teir 1 airport and become more competative with NC, or they could stand pat and continue to lose a lot of opportunities to our neighbor.

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1 hour ago, NFKjeff said:

It is interesting that you mentioned the Research Triangle area as NC is pushing hard to implement I-87 (Raleigh-Norfolk.) They definitely want a convenient route to the Ports of VA. I-87 might take 20 years to build, so too might any airport. NC already has two 1st. tier airports in RDU and CLT. The presence of such an airport would be a game changer in regards to development, but it is debatable if either Richmond or Hampton Roads would warrant, or could develop such infrastructure on it's own.

This region could develop a teir 1 airport and become more competative with NC, or they could stand pat and continue to lose a lot of opportunities to our neighbor.

I keep forgetting about how competitive it could make the region, regardless of location. I wonder how different things would be had someone gotten the ball rolling 15 years ago. I do think it's time to look forward and start developing for the next 50 years. 

My main issue is this area likes to drag its feet, which is only going to drive the price tag higher and higher. 

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7 hours ago, BFG said:

I keep forgetting about how competitive it could make the region, regardless of location. I wonder how different things would be had someone gotten the ball rolling 15 years ago. I do think it's time to look forward and start developing for the next 50 years. 

My main issue is this area likes to drag its feet, which is only going to drive the price tag higher and higher. 

The problem is that simply building a Tier 1 airport isn't going to get it done. There have to be flights going out of this airport. And if there's little demand for flights in an airport in the middle of nowhere, then the new airport provides little benefit. 

If the two areas were a little bit closer together, this could be feasible. Norfolk (and Hampton Roads in general) isn't likely to ever be able to support a Tier 1 Airport. Richmond has a chance IMO. I wonder if Newport News/Williamsburg were to close (and I've never been sold that it's a very necessary airport) if that would divert enough traffic to Richmond to possibly help elevate its status. Very doubtful given NN/Wiliamsburg's paltry passenger counts these days, but frankly if we want a Tier 1 Airport accessible from Hampton Roads, I think we should be working with Richmond to help them elevate their's. 

 

Edited by HRVT

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That dragging their feet issue is why this area will never be seen as more then a Tier 2 region. The local govts need to put their pride aside and work together or better yet stop being 7+ individual voices and become one by merging into one large city.

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Ron Villanueva is also interested in the possibility, wants a feasibility study performed.

http://pilotonline.com/news/government/virginia/is-hampton-roads-mega-regional-airport-a-fantasy-legislative-study/article_4763fed1-7738-5efc-8e77-9a187da8626b.html

According to the article, this area misses out on conventions and other events because of our smaller airport. I think it should be other way around; work on getting more attractions here (the arena, more shows at the convention center and Norfolk's new conference center), and see how that impacts traffic. ODU going FBS helps as well, with more C-USA schools and fans coming here. Work on expanding ORF as much as you can first and build the region from within.

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The trouble with trying to expand ORF is that the FAA is not cooperating. ORF tried to extend the main runway to accommodate larger capacity jets and was rejected. I love ORF, but I do believe this area misses out on a lot of opportunities, especially job opportunities, due to the lack of direct flights available. IMO a major airport in this region would change that.

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Maybe the best thing would be to build a new airport and close ORF. Looking at Google Maps the only pieces of empty land big enough for a large airport is south of Stumpy Lake or west of I-664 in Suffok where the Executive Airport is. If we want a hub type mega airport you need space. Looking at Google Maps both Charlotte's and Atlanta's airports are larger than the dense metro areas.  The Executive Airport would be ideal IMO, it's at an intersection of interstates 64, 664 and 264 as well as Rt. 58.

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