On May 12, 2015, the Virginia Beach City Council took two
actions in support of light rail:
- Adopted a resolution favoring
the extension of light rail 3.2 miles from the Newtown Road station in Norfolk
to Virginia Beach Town Center. The extension would include a new station at
Witchduck Road and two stations in the Town Center area – one near Kellam Road
and one (the end of the line) at Constitution Drive. This is called the Locally
- Adopted a budget that includes plans
to extend light rail to Town Center, with $20 million to proceed in the 2015-16
fiscal year. This also includes plans to double the city’s bus service, build a
walking-biking trail alongside the light rail line and build over 20 new bus
Here’s a tentative schedule of what’s to come:
- Late 2015/Early 2016: City Council vote to authorize purchase of light rail vehicles
- Summer 2016 - Fall 2017: Final environmental documents and 30% preliminary engineering design plans
- Spring 2017: City
Council vote to approve construction
- Summer 2017 - Summer 2019: Construction
- Summer 2019 - Fall 2019: Testing
- Winter 2019/2020: Light rail
service to Virginia Beach Town Center begins
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 strategies
- Support 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
Most Recent Public Involvement by the City and City Council Action
City Council Public Meetings on the Virginia Beach Transit
May 5, 2015 City Council Public Hearing - This public
hearing was an opportunity for the public to comment on the Locally Preferred
Alternative City staff recommendation of extending The Tide light rail system
from the existing Newtown Station to the Town Center area in the vicinity of
May 12, 2015 City Council Public Hearing - City Council
adopted a resolution for the Locally Preferred Alternative to extend The Tide
light rail system from the existing Newtown Station to the Town Center area in
the vicinity of Constitution Drive.
In addition, City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2016 Resource Management Plan for Fiscal Year 2016 (“the Budget”) and the associated light rail extension capital projects. Those projects included the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Project; the Light Rail Corridor Shared Use Pathway; and the 12 Buses to Support the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Project. Those projects can be viewed in the Capital Improvement Program for Fiscal Year 16.
Most Recent City Council Briefing on the Project Prior to the May 5 and May 12, 2015 Public Hearings
On March 17, 2015, Deputy City Manager Dave Hansen briefed City Council on an additional analysis the City performed of the Town Center alignment alternative of the Virginia Beach Transit Extension Study / Draft Environmental Impact Statement by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT). The additional analysis focused on a Pembroke Multimodal Station Study and Light Rail Corridor Shared Use Pathway. 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.
Most Recent Public Involvement by HRT
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, which ended on May 5, 2015. Four public hearings were hosted by HRT
during the public comment period throughout the study corridor area in addition
to the informational public meeting as outlined below.
This meeting was held on Monday, March 30, 2015 from 6 - 7 p.m. at The Westin, 4535 Commerce Street, Virginia Beach Town Center.
There were four VBTES DEIS Public Hearings where the public was provided the opportunity to comment on the Study. Those meetings were held:
- Monday, April 13, 2015 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Boulevard, Virginia Beach, VA 23452.
- Thursday, April 16, 2015 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at Linkhorn Park Elementary School, 977 First Colonial Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23454.
- Monday, April 20, 2015 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at ODU-VB Higher Education Center, 1881 University Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23453.
- Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Renaissance Academy, 5100 Cleveland Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23462.
Prior to the four VBTES DEIS public hearings, HRT hosted a public meeting on the study on Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Academy, 5100 Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach. This meeting was held 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 can be viewed here.
This webpage is in the process of a redesign to be more
user friendly as The Tide Light Rail Extension project moves forward. Thank you for your patience as we complete
For more updates from HRT about the project, please
visit the HRT VBTES web page: http://gohrt.com/about/development/vbtes.