Light rail on the Peninsula? Workshops discuss future public transit options

Posted at 5:03 PM, May 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 23:05:10-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Hampton Roads Transit hosted three workshops this week to study expanded public transit options for Peninsula residents.

The workshops mark the first round of community meetings for the HRT Peninsula Corridor Study which began in March.

The study was initiated in partnership with the cities of Hampton and Newport News to look at a variety of factors, including technology and funding for high capacity transit on the Peninsula.


Norfolk's light rail

High capacity transit, according to HRT, can be a streetcar or light rail that operates on a track, or a bus or bus rapid transit (BRT) system which can operate on a designated lane, existing roadway, or separate roadway for buses only.

HRT officials say the purpose of the study is to share with the public what the transportation options could be and for the public to weigh in on what major centers they would like for them to connect.

"This is something more than the standard local bus that we run today," says Ray Amoruso, Chief Planning and Development Officer for HRT. "We are not  literally looking for a street to run on but rather identify a broad travel corridor that connects key areas like Fort Eustis, Fort Langley, Thomas Nelson Community College."

However, the discussion of changing transportation has recently caused issues across Hampton Roads.

In Virginia Beach last week, a judge approved a petition with more than 32,000 signatures to include a referendum on light rail. This came after city council members voted to move forward with a project that would extend light rail to Town Center.

"It could be light rail, but that's part of the study effort to look at all of these things and analyze that data," says Amoruso.

With several possibilities on the table, participants like Newport News resident, Adrian Whitcomb, seemed open to some potential changes at Thursday night's workshop.

"We need to think ahead to see how we can get around this area in the future."

At the end of the study, Amoruso says they expect to have a recommendation that they are going to present to Newport News and Hampton city councils for endorsement.

For more information on the study and how to weigh in, visit the HRT website.