Cost to Extend Light Rail to Virginia Beach
The exact cost is unknown. A preliminary study last year estimated $807 million (in 2018 dollars) for the full 12-mile route to the resort oceanfront - an average of about $67 million per mile. A 3.2-mile extension to Town Center was estimated to cost about $254 million (in 2018 dollars).
There are no final numbers for Virginia Beach, and the method of financing is unknown because the full study is not yet complete.
Preliminary results were released in April 2011 but those numbers are no longer valid, and the actual numbers will likely change, because:
A. The estimates were based on a limited set of assumptions, which are changing.
B. Costs may escalate because the estimated time of construction has been extended.
C. Alignment of the route may change, particularly in the Hilltop area.
Norfolk's Light Rail Line Construction Costs
For guidance, we can look to Norfolk, where the cost was $318 million for 7.4 miles.
63 percent came from the federal government
20 percent came from the state
17 percent came from the city of Norfolk
That's roughly $43 million per mile. While there are obvious differences - Norfolk's topography and ours are not identical - this could provide a frame of reference.
The possibility of building the light rail in phases - for instance, building it from Newtown Road to Town Center and then Town Center to the oceanfront - is also being studied.
Virginia Beach purchased the former Norfolk Southern right-of-way in 2010. It runs 10.6 miles from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road. The city paid $15 million, the state contributed $20 million and HRT kicked in $5 million. The train tracks are no longer in use.
East of Birdneck Road, the alignment would likely run in existing city owned right-of-way to the Oceanfront.
A study is currently under way to see if the route can be adjusted to include the Hilltop shopping area. This may result in additional land acquisition, but it is possible this change could mostly be accommodated in the existing Laskin Road right-of-way.