A West Side Option to Naval Station Norfolk Is Not Feasible – Now Attention Turns to the East Side

Alternative 7 – Monticello/Hampton

Alternative 12 – Church/Granby

Following a year of analysis on a potential west-side extension to Naval Station Norfolk of The Tide light rail, Hampton Roads Transit is recommending a “no build” option to the Federal Transit Administration.

The decision is based on limited projected ridership in the identified corridor, high capital and operating costs, the potential impact to existing vehicular traffic and significant flooding and resiliency issues in the alignment.

The move sets the stage for work in the east side corridor, one that HRT believes may hold more promise for the long-sought effort to connect the region’s largest and most important employer to high-capacity transit. Such a project is expected to ease the heavy congestion on I-64 and I-564 and provide reliable options for the roughly 70,000 people who work at the base.

The west side study included three modes of service (bus rapid transit, street car and light rail.) The initial evaluation framework identified 14 potential routes in the west side study area. Then, through a tiered screening process, they were narrowed to two: an alignment known as Alternative 7 – Monticello/Hampton – and Alternative 12 – Church/Granby.

Critical to the process is to help Norfolk make a fiscally responsible transit investment, with a focus on projected capital, operating and maintenance costs, and to ensure that the alternative selected can effectively compete for federal funds. Through analysis and evaluation, HRT found challenges and complexities that impacted both alternatives.

In the west side study, challenges were found in the need to build structures over the Norfolk Southern Railroad, over Little Creek Road and the I-64 overpasses at Wards Corner, and under Dominion Energy transmission lines at 21st Street, a complex phased-construction to minimize impacts on major city streets, ensure continued access to the base, new bridges over the Lafayette River because the existing ones will not support light rail, and right-of-way constraints anticipated to affect major intersections.

Flooding and resiliency present significant long-term challenges. Segments of the proposed alignments could be permanently inundated by three feet of water in 2070, and six feet by 2100.

The DEIS work on the east side is scheduled to begin in Fall 2018 and, as required by the Federal Transit Administration, it will further evaluate alignments along Military Highway, E. Little Creek Road and Terminal Boulevard. The east side study will include areas where Norfolk has included light rail as a key component in its vision for the areas in the Military Circle/Military Highway Urban Development Area and near the JANAF Shopping Center.