The Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES) / Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is a planning study that Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) is managing in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The study examines the best transit options using a former freight rail right-of-way which runs from Newtown Road to Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach. The study area extends from Newtown Road to the Oceanfront area on 19th Street.
The VBTES/DEIS includes the study of four Fixed Guideway Alignment Alternatives from the existing Newtown Road Tide station to points east into Virginia Beach:
- Alternative 1A: ~3 miles to the Town Center Area (four end of line station options)
- Alternative 1B: 4.8 miles to the Rosemont Area
- Alternative 2: 12.2 miles to the Oceanfront along the NSRR corridor (with Maintenance Facility)
- Alternative 3: 13.5 miles to the Oceanfront through the Hilltop Area (with Maintenance Facility)
Map credit: Hampton Roads Transit
The VBTES/DEIS also includes the study of two forms of fixed guideway transit technology:
- Light Rail Transit (LRT)
- Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
The existing 7.4-mile fixed guideway transit system in Norfolk, The Tide, is Light Rail Transit technology.
City Studies Focusing on the Pembroke Strategic Growth Area, Town Center Alignment Alternative and Opportunity for a Shared Use Pathway Parallel with the Light Rail Extension
While HRT was studying the fourth alignment alternative to the Town Center area, the City coordinated three studies to help focus on three key opportunities that would complement the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study:
1) Creating the Pembroke Multimodal Station Master Plan that conceptualizes transit oriented development (TOD) relative to the Town Center area
2) The Light Rail Corridor Shared-Use Pathway Study provides an opportunity to evaluate the feasibility of creating a more inviting environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users to support a flourishing transportation system along the corridor as well as provide an additional amenity for future TOD
3) Completing a comprehensive Economic Analysis of Transit Oriented Development associated with the Virginia Beach Light Rail extension alternative to Town Center
The purpose of the Pembroke Multimodal Station Master Plan (the Plan) is to consider and evaluate the four station alternatives identified in the Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES) for the Town Center alignment alternative to conceptualize scenarios for transit-oriented development build-out of station nodes within the Pembroke SGA.
Specifically, the Plan seeks to:
- Consider the Pembroke Strategic Growth Area 4 Implementation Plan, other aspects of the Virginia Beach Comprehensive Plan, including the adopted Master Transportation Plan; and recent Zoning Code amendments for the study area.
- Consider phasing options for all alternatives to include mixed use development, vertical parking and enhanced transit station amenities.
- Consider connectivity infrastructure requirements to support future north and south alignments of fixed guideway transit lines, as well as access and transfers to/from other modes, to support a regional multi-modal system.
- Develop Pembroke SGA development build-out scenarios for one-quarter mile and half-mile areas from potential station locations.
- Develop criteria for evaluating the most suitable Pembroke area fixed guideway transit station location or locations
The objective of the Light Rail Corridor Shared-Use Path Study is to determine if a shared-use path is a feasible and implementable option within the constraints of existing conditions and proposed developments. Specifically, the Study seeks to:
- Determine if the addition of shared-use path along proposed light rail track alignment is feasible
- Create a continuous east/west pedestrian and bicycle shared- use path between Newtown Road (the western City of Virginia Beach limits) and the oceanfront
- Create a facility to connect Strategic Growth Areas
- Construct a pedestrian and bicycle friendly connection between proposed transit stations
- Supplement urban development with modes of transportation that serve pedestrian traffic
- Allow the shared-use path to serve as maintenance access to the transit system
- Identify conceptual planning-level opinion of probable costs
The result will be an updated plan for the Pembroke area that will illustrate a revised road network, land use distribution, development quantities, open space configuration, and phasing of affected areas within close proximity to potential Pembroke multi-modal station locations.
The purpose of completing a comprehensive Economic Analysis of Transit Oriented Development associated with the Virginia Beach Light Rail extension alternative to Town Center is to determine the marginal real estate tax fiscal impact associated with light rail transit (LRT) around transit oriented development (TOD) stations. Advanced modeling methods were utilized to determine the difference between redevelopment potential and existing conditions (the margin), including the following eight‐stage process was designed using national and Virginia Beach specific metrics. The following is a brief summary of each step taken in the analysis:
all parcels within a ¼ and ½ mile radius of LRT stations – Four
stations were identified with a terminus located at Constitution Drive. The
four stations are the existing Newtown station and three new ones. Along the
Norfolk/Southern rail corridor, the Witchduck station is located less than 1/8
mile east of Witchduck Road, the Kellam station would be located near the road
and LRT corridor intersection, and the Constitution station would be near the
Constitution Drive intersection.
parcel development/redevelopment possibilities within ½ mile of the proposed stations
– Once all parcels were identified; each parcel was examined to
determine timed phases for redevelopment. Parcels with high potential were
projected to take place between years 1 and 20. Parcels with medium potential
were projected to take place between years 21 and 40. Parcels with low
potential were projected to take place between years 41 and 50. Parcels with no
potential redevelopment were also identified.
redevelopment quality classifications and apply appropriate valuation metrics –
Because redevelopment quality and its amenities will differ between projects, a
scalable quality rate was developed and applied. All scaled rates were
recognized as high quality but differed in the type and quality of amenities.
The analytical classifications were AA, A, and B and are not intended to mirror
the professional AA, A, and B appraisal standards.
a 50‐year economic cycle and phased time horizon – An economic cycle
was applied to the 50‐year time horizon. The cycle accounted for ten‐year
recessionary periods at 0.0% growth and applied 0.5% incremental growth in
subsequent years capping growth at 3.0% until the next projected recession.
the current real estate tax rate throughout the 50‐year time
horizon – The applied real estate tax rate was 93¢ per $100 of assessed
scalable growth ranges – While the SGA plans are designed to illustrate
full build‐out, expecting this could be risky. By applying a scalable rate of
growth, decision makers are given options and would base the growth rate upon
anticipated economic conditions. Optimistic growth would include a number of
robust economic cycles (similar to the pre‐Great Recession period) and was
calculated at 75% of full build‐out. Average growth is a customary economic cycle
with normal recessionary periods and is calculated at 50% of full build‐out.
Modest growth would include one or more Great Recessions and was calculated at
25% of full build‐out.
premiums to redeveloped parcels within ½ mile radius of TOD stations –
Using nationally recognized metrics, land, office, commercial, hotel, and
industrial valuation premiums were applied to each parcel.
and calculate the real estate fiscal impact of private parking garages and lots
– Using the City of Virginia Beach’s valuation standard, private
parking garage and lot valuations were applied.
The goals of extending the light rail into Virginia Beach are to:
- Improve access, operations and reliability of the public transportation system
- Provide a cost-effective, efficient travel option that connects residential and employment areas as well as entertainment/recreational venues
- Implement service that helps manage growth in vehicle miles traveled and support the development of sustainable and livable communities
- Support Virginia Beach economic development activities consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and related land use strategiesSupport the tourism industry of Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads region by providing an alternative to travel on congested roadways
- Support preservation and protection of the environment
The Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study (VBTES) and associated Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) has been completed and signed by HRT and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The DEIS was published in the Federal Register on March 20, 2015, formally starting the 45-calendar day comment period. The public comment period ends at 5:00 p.m. on May 5, 2015.
The information on the right side of this webpage provides details in terms of locations where the document can be viewed and, as importantly, when and where the public can provide comments at public hearings hosted by Hampton Roads Transit.
The next decision point would be for City Council to select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) decision, of the four alignment alternatives outlined above and which technology (Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit) or a No-build option (not pursuing the transit extension project at all). That LPA decision is targeted for the May 5, 2015 City Council public hearing.
These next milestone activities also align with the City of Virginia Beach presenting and considering the Fiscal Year 2016 Resource Management Plan (Operating and Capital Improvement Program budgets).
Next milestone activities and dates include:
- May 5, 2015: Formal DEIS Public Comment Period and Public Hearings
- May 2015: Council selects Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) and completion of DEIS
- Spring-Summer 2015: Adoption of the LPA into the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) Board
- Summer 2015: Initiation of Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and 30% Preliminary Engineering by HRT
- Summer 2016: Completion of FEIS and Record of Decision (ROD) - if a Town Center or Rosemont alignment alternative is selected
Most Recent Public Involvement
The most recent public meeting that Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) hosted on the study was held on Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Academy, 5100 Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach.
This meeting was hosted by HRT to discuss the potential transit service hours and associated annual operating and maintenance costs being reviewed for an extension of high capacity transit into Virginia Beach. The meeting also addressed improvements to the existing bus network that would support an expanded high-capacity service. The four alignment options reviewed at the meeting included: Newtown Road to Town Center; Newtown Road to Rosemont Road area; Newtown Road to Oceanfront along the railroad right-of-way, and Newtown Road to the Oceanfront partially along Laskin and Birdneck Roads.
The November 20, 2014 presentation provided at the public meeting can be viewed here.
Most Recent City Council Briefing
On March 17, 2015, Deputy City Manager Dave Hansen briefed City Council on the analysis that the City has performed focusing on the Town Center alignment alternative of the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study / Draft Environmental Impact Statement that Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). The additional analysis relates to the Pembroke Multimodal Station Study and Light Rail Corridor Shared Use Pathway Study for the Town Center alignment alternative corridor. That briefing can be accessed here.
Also, on September 9, 2014, HRT briefed City Council on the fourth alignment alternative, ending in the Town Center area. The briefing included ridership and cost projections and can be viewed here.
There were two public meetings hosted by HRT on the Town Center Alignment Alternative:
- September 22, 2014 at the Renaissance Academy, 5100 Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach. This location is near stops for local bus route 20.
- September 24 at the Westin Hotel, Town Center, 4535 Commerce St., Virginia Beach. This location is served by local bus routes 20 and 36.
Public Information Meeting - Learn More about the Study Process
Monday, March 30, 2015
The Westin, 4535 Commerce Street
Virginia Beach Town Center
6 - 7 p.m.
This location is served by local bus routes 20 and 36.
VBTES DEIS Public Hearings
Monday, April 13, 2015 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library
4100 Virginia Beach Boulevard,
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Served by Route 20
Thursday, April 16, 2015 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Linkhorn Park Elementary School
977 First Colonial Road,
Virginia Beach, VA 23454
Served by Route 29
Monday, April 20, 2015 6:00pm - 7:30pm
ODU-VB Higher Education Center
1881 University Drive,
Virginia Beach, VA 23453
Served by Routes 25 and 33
Saturday, April 25, 2015 11:00am -12:30pm
5100 Cleveland Street,
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
1 block from Route 20
City Council Public Meetings on the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Project:
Both public meetings will take place in City Hall, 2nd Floor City Council Chambers at 2401 Courthouse Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.
The Virginia Beach Municipal Center is served by routes 25 and 33.