Va. Beach light rail discussed by Commonwealth Transportation Board

Posted at 10:02 AM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 10:02:42-05

Update: Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne and the  Commonwealth Transportation Board issued a resolution to the City of Virginia Beach on the light rail project. 

They're asking the city to sign a Memorandum of Understanding and also commit to purchasing light rail cars before April 30, 2016. 

If the city does not make a decision by April 30, Secretary Layne says the Board will meet in May to discuss the future of state funding for light rail. 

Richmond, Va. -- The future of funding for light rail in Virginia Beach was discussed Tuesday at the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has set aside $155 million for the project that is expected to cost a total of $310 million.

Under an agreement between the state and Virginia Beach, if the city does not move forward with the light rail, they must pay $20 million back to the state. VDOT board members said the longer they delay the more than likely raise the price of the project.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, three council members are calling for a referendum before moving forward with light rail but Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne said if there was another referendum, he would recommend the board pull the funding.

A board member at the VDOT meeting called the light rail project one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the region.

"[The meeting] is not an intent to kill the project, it's asking if you're committed to the project," another VDOT official said. "This is a project the state would like to be done."

In October 2015, council members rejected a proposal from Councilman John Moss to shift money away from the light rail project to help ease a projected $33 million budget shortfall in the city.

Virginia Beach City Council had their own meeting tonight, light rail wasn't on the agenda but after the meeting Councilman Moss told Newschannel 3 that the city doesn't need the board's money or even light rail.

"We can move on. We don’t need their money and we don’t need the light rail," said Councilman Moss.

Mayor Will Sessoms had a different view on the situation.

"I believe there's a way we can work with the state," said Mayor Sessoms.