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)
Figure 1: 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.
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
Next milestone activities and dates include:
- March 2015 – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes the VBTES/DEIS in the Federal Registry.
- April 2015: Formal DEIS Public Comment Period and Public Hearings
- April 2015: Council selects Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) and completion of DEIS
- Summer 2015: Initiation of Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and 30% Preliminary Engineering by HRT
- Spring-Summer 2015: Adoption of the LPA into the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (HRTPO) Board
- Summer 2016: Completion of FEIS and Record of Decision (ROD) - if a Town Center or Rosemont alignment alternative is selected
- December 2016: Completion of EIS and Record of Decision (ROD) - if either of the Oceanfront alignment alternatives are 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 September 9, 2014, HRT briefed City Council on the fourth alignment alternative, ending in the Town Center area. It included ridership and cost projections and can be view here: September 9, 2014 City Council briefing
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.