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Virginia Beach Light Rail and Transit

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VB's Light Rail Now needs to get a website. It should have valuable facts and information about light rail and a place to purchase things like stickers, etc so that people can express their support. I have a feeling a large majority of VB residents approve of light rail. Unfortunately, most are too quite. The naysayers make more noise. The Pilot always seems to be printing article that make LRT seem like a gift from Satan himself. Hampton Roads is watching VB. VB needs to get its LRT supporters to be more vocal and more engaged.

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VB's Light Rail Now needs to get a website. It should have valuable facts and information about light rail and a place to purchase things like stickers, etc so that people can express their support. I have a feeling a large majority of VB residents approve of light rail. Unfortunately, most are too quite. The naysayers make more noise. The Pilot always seems to be printing article that make LRT seem like a gift from Satan himself. Hampton Roads is watching VB. VB needs to get its LRT supporters to be more vocal and more engaged.

A domain has been registered, with a website in the works.

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Oh how I long for the day when our council members have spines..<_<

A year and a half after announcing a $40 million deal to buy an old rail line for a possible light-rail project, city officials are working frantically to finalize the agreement.

But a politically awkward issue remains to be resolved before the Sept. 24 deadline for the sale: Will the state require that the 10.6-mile corridor owned by Norfolk Southern be used for a light-rail project as a condition for releasing $20 million in grant money to buy the property?

That requirement could commit the city to pursuing light rail while officials have repeatedly said the corridor could be used for any kind of transportation project, including a bus rapid-transit system or a limited-access road.

It could undercut the city's consistent message that no decision on light rail will be made until a $5.7 million study is finished next year. It could also make the debate about whether the city should hold another light-rail referendum moot.

Umm....Require light rail? Check. Make a referendum a moot issue? Check. I really don't see the problem here, that is unless they were never really committed to light rail in the first place and were just paying lip service to it. /sigh

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i absolutely second that. in fact, i think that the state and the federal government both are starting to recognize that road building alone is not going to solve our problems.

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We'll probably get some interesting sound bites out of Council, but they have no realistic alternative but to approve the purchase with the LRT stipulation.

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VIRGINIA BEACH

City officials said Tuesday that they've struck a last-minute compromise with the state to complete a $40 million deal to buy an old rail line for a possible light rail project.

The city expects to close on the 10.6-mile corridor owned by Norfolk Southern later this month.

Until Tuesday afternoon, city officials were fretting that state officials might require them to commit to a light rail project to get a $20 million state grant for the rail line purchase. This would have put in an awkward position many City Council members who say they are waiting on completion of an ongoing transportation study before taking a position on light rail.

It also leaves the door open for a referendum, which a majority of council members have said they support. Voters rejected light rail in a 1999. The City Council has not taken a stance on it since.

Under the agreement with the state, to get and keep the $20 million, the city must use its "best efforts" to pursue light rail. Alternatives, such as a bus rapid transit system on the line, would be temporarily allowed as long as light rail remains the long-term goal, city attorney Becky Kubin told the City Council.

Council members, who are scheduled to vote on the issue next week, largely praised the agreement.

"We are extraordinarily close," Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson said. "We don't want to lose the ground we've covered."

Under the 2009 agreement to buy the corridor paralleling Interstate 264 between Newtown and Birdneck roads, the state will put in $20 million, the city will pay $10 million, Hampton Roads Transit will contribute $5 million, and the remaining $5 million will come from a utility easement on the property.

http://hamptonroads....thern-rail-line

Edited by HarryVB

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This might be the dumbest paragraph in the article.

t's emotional for Helen Banicar who remembers voting against Light Rail in 1999 when Light Rail was defeated, "This has really got me upset because I thought when we voted on something that was it. We took our time to go to the polls and voted on something that was law."

And this might be the second dumbest paragraph in the article.

Light Rail Critic Robert Dean says the Council is putting the cart before the horse, "Let's wait for the referendum. Let's wait until the study is done then use imminent domain and let the courts decide what the land is worth."

Apparently Helen Banicar thinks we only vote once on something and it is done....someone should reminder her that her right to vote probably had to come up for a vote several times before it passed...she should be thankful that it did finally pass...but why bother ourselves with stupid history.

And Robert Dean is just a naysaying idiot based off this paragraph...got it Dean, you don't like the idea for light rail, that doesn't mean it is not a good idea for the city to own something that could be physically seen as a backbone for the entire city...no lets wait on buying that strip of property until the value of it goes up even more after studies show how much more useful it will be for the city to be owning it...personally I think that line should of been purchased back in the 80s before light rail was even a talked about option simply because of its future possibilities it would of had for the city.

Anyway, good for the city for passing this and good for the council for voting 10-0 in favor of this, even if you are a doubter of light rail, this is still a good purchase for the city.

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Watching the Presentation on the purchase that was given to Council in Informal Session last week, it looked like we had 8-10 votes in favor. Easily enough for it to pass.

Last night was a hoot. (I was the third speaker in favor.) With the exception of Dean, the only VBTAers who showed up were a bunch of third-stringers. The arguments in opposition were ridiculous. Banicar was so far out there that the Mayor was having to do his best to keep from openly laughing at her.

We won 10-0. The TDCHR vote on the 23rd should largely be a formality, with the property going to closing the next day.

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Yeah the lady that said ''Shame on you, All stinking of you''. What a uneducated idiot she was honestly.. She does not understand what the corridor will do for the city. I bet she is the one that voted against lightrail because she thought bringing blacks from norfolk to virginia beach would bring more crime. It should not be about race or what color you are!. This is 2010. we are in the future now. If the babyboomers are going to fuss and live in the past, let them. Don't let them ruin the opportunity for Virginia Beach for a lifetime. Lightrail is a very important project that needs to start as soon as possible. The sooner the lightrail the sooner more developers will come in and build more developments that will help the citys tax base to keep the tax burden off taxpayers.. Lightrail will decrease traffic on our streets, BRT, I think we all know what happen with BRT a couple years ago. The city council, mayor obernorf broke down on the side of the road in PUNGO.. who wants that type of transportation? Lightrail runs on tracks with electric overhead lines and continues to move smoothly. BRT would be a mistake!

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Yeah the lady that said ''Shame on you, All stinking of you''. What a uneducated idiot she was honestly.. She does not understand what the corridor will do for the city. I bet she is the one that voted against lightrail because she thought bringing blacks from norfolk to virginia beach would bring more crime. It should not be about race or what color you are!. This is 2010. we are in the future now. If the babyboomers are going to fuss and live in the past, let them. Don't let them ruin the opportunity for Virginia Beach for a lifetime. Lightrail is a very important project that needs to start as soon as possible. The sooner the lightrail the sooner more developers will come in and build more developments that will help the citys tax base to keep the tax burden off taxpayers.. Lightrail will decrease traffic on our streets, BRT, I think we all know what happen with BRT a couple years ago. The city council, mayor obernorf broke down on the side of the road in PUNGO.. who wants that type of transportation? Lightrail runs on tracks with electric overhead lines and continues to move smoothly. BRT would be a mistake!

Oh come on Harry, wise up. Why does everything have to be about race. This argument is in no way racially motivated and the more people like you who say that people against this are racist are truly killing the meaning of the word racist. Racism is a terrible thing and it can't be thrown around like it is some mundane everyday word. This is not a racially-motivated argument. 99% of naysayers are against it because of the high cost of construction and labor being funded directly from the taxpayer. While I'm not a huge fan of taxes, I'm smart enough to realize the economic benefits of light rail greatly exceed the cost and investment.

Recap: stop calling naysayers racist and save that argument for people who truly are.

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Oh come on Harry, wise up. Why does everything have to be about race. This argument is in no way racially motivated and the more people like you who say that people against this are racist are truly killing the meaning of the word racist. Racism is a terrible thing and it can't be thrown around like it is some mundane everyday word. This is not a racially-motivated argument. 99% of naysayers are against it because of the high cost of construction and labor being funded directly from the taxpayer. While I'm not a huge fan of taxes, I'm smart enough to realize the economic benefits of light rail greatly exceed the cost and investment.

Recap: stop calling naysayers racist and save that argument for people who truly are.

While I pretty much agree with you here that this isn't really a racial issue, there has always been an issue involving race when it comes to Norfolk and Virginia Beach and when there is talk about a physical link between the two cities, that is still going to be an actual issue in things like this. I remember when LRT came up for a vote the first time and I heard so much from the VB side saying that the trains would stop in bad neighborhoods and bring the crime to VB's neighborhoods...which when you look at it is a racial, social, classism issue. I agree that the word racist shouldn't be thrown around all the time, and there are more than plenty of people that are against LRT because they don't see the point of having it when they have their cars or don't want to use taxpayer money to fund it or afraid of the magic of rising taxes or whatever...but there are still people that don't want it for racial issues too.

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While I pretty much agree with you here that this isn't really a racial issue, there has always been an issue involving race when it comes to Norfolk and Virginia Beach and when there is talk about a physical link between the two cities, that is still going to be an actual issue in things like this. I remember when LRT came up for a vote the first time and I heard so much from the VB side saying that the trains would stop in bad neighborhoods and bring the crime to VB's neighborhoods...which when you look at it is a racial, social, classism issue. I agree that the word racist shouldn't be thrown around all the time, and there are more than plenty of people that are against LRT because they don't see the point of having it when they have their cars or don't want to use taxpayer money to fund it or afraid of the magic of rising taxes or whatever...but there are still people that don't want it for racial issues too.

I agree with you that there are some people, but that is a very small, highly uneducated proportion of the opposition. Trains stopping in bad neighborhoods is a valid claim to be against light rail, but who are people living in other areas to deny those residents access to public transportation and the opportunity to make their neighborhood a better place as a result of light rail?

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If you don't think racism is part of the opposition, check again:

1. Virginia Beach eliminated the old railbus service to try to curb African-Americans from Norfolk from coming to our Beach.

2. The group that forms the organized opposition (i.e. the VBTA) is all-White.

3. Wally Erb led the drive to petition LRT onto this November's ballot and is now running for City Council. Go back and look at his openly racist comments in October, 1999 (they appeared in the paper) against LRT.

Granted, cost is the primary factor. However, racism is very much a part of it.

The racial component has made LRT a wedge issue, eliminating the possibility of opponents winning a significant share of the minority vote. That means we'll have pro-LRT City Councils this deacde, ensurng the project gets done.

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If you don't think racism is part of the opposition, check again:

1. Virginia Beach eliminated the old railbus service to try to curb African-Americans from Norfolk from coming to our Beach.

2. The group that forms the organized opposition (i.e. the VBTA) is all-White.

3. Wally Erb led the drive to petition LRT onto this November's ballot and is now running for City Council. Go back and look at his openly racist comments in October, 1999 (they appeared in the paper) against LRT.

Granted, cost is the primary factor. However, racism is very much a part of it.

The racial component has made LRT a wedge issue, eliminating the possibility of opponents winning a significant share of the minority vote. That means we'll have pro-LRT City Councils this deacde, ensurng the project gets done.

In the order your comments were received:

1. I don't even know when Virginia Beach had railbus service. My guess is that it was decades ago and therefore plays no role in the argument for or against light rail now. Just because residents of Virginia Beach may or may not have been racially motivated a long time ago doesn't mean they still are.

2. Even if the opposition is all-White, so what? That does not make the group racist. I guarantee you that if you ask the leadership and say that you're Asian, Hispanic, Black, etc. that they would be more than happy to have your support. Saying a group is racist because they are mostly or all-White is prejudiced in and of itself. That is how frivolous rumors about the Tea Party got started (but they actually have a strong minority faction within their group, but that's a different argument).

3. Wally Erb may or may not be racist, I don't know. But IF he is, he does not represent the views of the entire city of Virginia Beach, nor the entire voice of the opposition, he just might be one of those outliers who is against LRT for racial reasons. But I don't know Erb, and saying one man is racist does not mean that even a significant percentage of the opposition is.

Now I am for light rail 100%, but it really makes me mad when such comments are made and truly good-hearted fiscal conservatives are labelled as something they're not. Playing the race card isn't going to get light rail any more votes.

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Well, it looks like Mr. "No Light Rail" came in at a healthy 11%. :lol: Also, all the candidates that won tonight support light rail in some fashion with exception of Desteph, but he's another story. All in all it looks like the VBTA was all bark and no bite, which I had suspected, but it is nice to see my suspicions confirmed. Still don't like the idea of a referendum, but if someone running as blatantly anti-rail can't get more than 11% I'm not really sweating it. This was a wave election, and one would have expected that if light rail were the negative that the VBTA suggested, all incumbents that supported it would have been swept from office. This simply did not happen.

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Well, it looks like Mr. "No Light Rail" came in at a healthy 11%. :lol: Also, all the candidates that won tonight support light rail in some fashion with exception of Desteph, but he's another story. All in all it looks like the VBTA was all bark and no bite, which I had suspected, but it is nice to see my suspicions confirmed. Still don't like the idea of a referendum, but if someone running as blatantly anti-rail can't get more than 11% I'm not really sweating it. This was a wave election, and one would have expected that if light rail were the negative that the VBTA suggested, all incumbents that supported it would have be swept from office. This simply did not happen.

Indeed, though I was disappointing that Rigell beat Nye with the Shake and bake republican attack ads.

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Incumbents sent back to city council

The three candidates who campaigned as skeptics of a Beach light rail project – Wally Erb, Toni Hedrick and John Moss – picked up a slice of the votes but failed to get close to winning, suggesting the stance might not have resonated deeply with voters.

Moss, chairman of the Virginia Beach Taxpayer Alliance, and Erb, who unsuccessfully tried to get a light-rail referendum question on the ballot this year, were both running in the at-large race. Moss, who was backed by the local Tea Party chapter, finished third, and Erb finished fourth . Hedrick, also a Tea Party candidate, lost to Wood.

The lack of turnover on the City Council is a reversal from the past two elections, in which at least two incumbents have been defeated each time, including longtime Mayor Meyera Oberndorf in 2008.

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Indeed, though I was disappointing that Rigell beat Nye with the Shake and bake republican attack ads.

Same here. While I'm not the biggest Nye fan in the world, I would've liked to see an opposing campaign other than "Blah blah blah Democrats suck and are evil..." At least Nye tried to justify himself in his ads, though I'm not sure telling folks why you went against a Democratic president was the best approach. ;-)

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If you don't think racism is part of the opposition, check again:

1. Virginia Beach eliminated the old railbus service to try to curb African-Americans from Norfolk from coming to our Beach.

2. The group that forms the organized opposition (i.e. the VBTA) is all-White.

3. Wally Erb led the drive to petition LRT onto this November's ballot and is now running for City Council. Go back and look at his openly racist comments in October, 1999 (they appeared in the paper) against LRT.

Granted, cost is the primary factor. However, racism is very much a part of it.

The racial component has made LRT a wedge issue, eliminating the possibility of opponents winning a significant share of the minority vote. That means we'll have pro-LRT City Councils this deacde, ensurng the project gets done.

Sorry I haven't responded due to being out of the country...but I had to comment...

Light Rail is absolutely the most-racially charged issue since the City of Virginia Beach was created out of P.A. County (which could have possibly been a more racist political decision...i.e. Norfolk annexation & the water wars).

I have literally heard family member say,

"Light rail is going to bring all the blacks into Town Center...you won't be able to even go there for a meal."

Additionally, I've honestly heard, "Blacks will get on light rail and rob tourist at the beach and then ride back to Nawfolk."

I know this cause I've heard it for years now in my very home. This is not made up or exaggerated, this is a middle class white family in a safe white neighborhood in VB. I feel glad if you've never been exposed to blatant racism. But I know first hand that its definitely on the minds of the babybomming, who's parents-had-moved-out-of-Norfolk, white-flight, republican-for-life voters which makes up a substantial base of the VB political machine.

I've chosen to break away from this toxic ideology, getting my master's in urban planning...and hoping to reverse a lot of the wrongs which racially-charged voters have caused.

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It's definitely racially-charged. When this hit the referendum in '99, I specifically remember several VB voters shutting it down because they didn't want crime from downtown Norfolk (where there are some projects) coming down to the Beach. Norfolk was on board, but VB was the ones dragging their feet.

Ironically, there have been a few robberies and sexual assaults at or near Town Center. And the suspects were of different races...

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The number one argument against light rail is not race nor crime. It's about taxes, spending, and the "can we afford it?" mentality. Believe me, if it were a private company building this thing, there wouldn't be anywhere near as much uproar over light rail because government spending and taxation would be involved, or it would be significantly less. I remember a friend telling me why he is against light rail. He said that if the city had enough money and no taxes had to be raised (or services cut, for that matter), we can build a million light rails for all he cares, and this is coming from one of the most conservative tea partiers I personally know. I am for light rail for its long term economic benefits to the city and region, those who are against it are only looking in the short term. Of course there are some radical popinjays who are against it because of race, but, like I said before, this is the minority opinion.

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Despite the costs of light rail, the real benefit comes in future development. As time progresses, cost rise. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since deflation (and falling prices) would be devastating. These rising costs have to be met with increased revenue. To increase revenue, you have to raise taxes or increase the tax base. Obviously, you want to keep overall taxes low, so you work to increase your tax base. Thats where VB is in a pinch. There is no new land to build on. Virginia Beach is virtually out of new land that can be developed if they want to keep their green line (which I whole heartedly support). That means the only way to increase the tax base is to increase the density. Now, VB is, by nature, a suburban city. Most of the residents live in suburban subdivisions and enjoy doing so. These suburban residents don't want to live in dense areas and they don't want the increased traffic that comes from a dense suburb. This is where light rail come in. New, dense, urban development can be targeted around light rail stops. The new residents that live there will move there because they WANT that environment. They will be the ones riding the light rail. The far off suburbanites are not being forced to leave their cars, but they still benefit. The city gets an increased tax base and more residents all without increasing traffic or disrupting existing suburban areas. THAT is the benefit of LRT to VB.

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