Virginia Beach, Va - Bringing the light rail to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront is something that's been talked about for a while. But now Virginia Beach Mayor, Will Sessoms, thinks it might be a good idea to bring it to Rosemont Road instead.
"I think it would just be silly just to stop it right there. There's nothing in this area right here at Rosemont that's going to draw people in and bring more money to do more things,” says Virginia Beach resident, Mckinley Jones.
Mayor Sessoms says he wants to extend light rail service into Virginia Beach as soon as possible.
And based on time and money, the quickest, cheapest way to do that is to build a segment from Norfolk to Rosemont with stops along the way at Witchduck Road and Town Center.
It's an idea nearby business owners believe will bring in more cash and encourages more development.
"If we can get a light rail, get some foot traffic in the area, I think that will kind of push a change in the type of landscape you see as far as what stores are here," says David Gracie, owner of Wild River Outfitters.
And, Mayor Sessoms says that's exactly what will happen as they plan to develop along the line. Then use that revenue to help fund extending the light rail in the future.
"We'd have offices, we'd have retail, we'd have residential, we'd have restaurants," says Mayor Sessoms.
Statistics show riders use the Newtown station in Norfolk the most.
The mayor believes many of those riders are from Virginia Beach.
And, with a park and ride planned for the Rosemont Road station, he thinks it will be even more beneficial to those riders.
"I think that's something that is important to make sure that we do have a true transportation system that's not located in just one city," says Mayor Sessoms.
Mayor Sessoms says they still need to get federal funding approval for the project.
Rosemont Road is just one of three routes being studied by Hampton Roads Transit officials. According to them, it's estimated to cost over a billion dollars to extend the light rail from Norfolk to the Oceanfront via the old rail line. That's if construction were to begin in 2018. HRT officials estimate it would cost over $400 million to extend it to Rosemont Road. Right now, they don't have an estimated cost for a route going from Norfolk to the Oceanfront via Laskin Rd.
Nothing is official yet, but Mayor Sessoms believes they could afford the Rosemont Road segment.