Governor supports future Chesapeake light rail route through South Norfolk into Greenbrier

Posted at 1:48 PM, Jun 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-18 18:11:57-04

Chesapeake, Va. - At Wednesday’s Commonwealth Transportation Board meeting in Richmond, Governor Terry McAuliffe voiced his support for light rail expansion all over Hampton Roads, including into the City of Chesapeake.

NewsChannel 3 is getting a better idea of what the Tide track might look like if it heads to Greenbrier.

The line would stretch from Downtown Norfolk heading south, possibly from Harbor Park or Norfolk State University, crossing Military Highway, I-64 and ending near Volvo Parkway.

The preferred path for light rail expansion into Chesapeake was included in city documents obtained by NewsChannel 3.

The memo was written for city council before a big vote on the future of light rail next month.

“There are funds coming available in 2021, but the way government works, you have to ask early,” said Chesapeake Councilman Rick West.

West says the city will be asking Hampton Roads Transit to find $1.8 million dollars to fund a light rail study.

The Tide's expansion into Greenbrier has been on the city council's wish list for years, even included in Chesapeake’s 2035 comprehensive plan.

Council members hope the route, which matches up with an existing Norfolk Southern rail line, will help create growth in depressed areas of the city.

“It does make sense that it could be a great spur for economic development in South Norfolk,” said West. “It brings people, and that’s the key. Whenever you bring people, it creates activity.”

The only hiccup to the plan might be the fact that Chesapeake waited so long to ask for help.

HRT has already allocated all of their money for light rail studies through 2020, used by ongoing efforts to bring the Tide to Virginia Beach and Naval Station Norfolk.

Still, the City of Chesapeake says it can't hurt to try.

“I think the time is right to open our eyes, be at the table and talk to those involved in expanding light rail. See if we are ready for it and be a part of that whole plan,” said West.