I'd like to ask Council Members and City Leadership to "Envision 2016 to 2030", that is, think how today's decisions will impact the City budget in the next 14 years. In that short time, children in elementary school will be young adults; today's young adults will be closing in on early middle age; and "middle agers" will have started dreaming about retirement. The critical importance of a well-thought out, rational plan to fund transportation projects ALL around the city is central to the maintenance of its still outstanding quality of life. Please provide concrete answers based on current information and your projections for a not-too-distant future. More importantly, please refrain from responding with talking points either pro or against light rail. All of us -leaders and citizens- should be making decisions at the ballot box on issues involving such very large expenditures of public funds with clear, straightforward information about present and future costs, not jingles, advertising campaigns, or manipulation of fears, emotions, and good intentions.
I. For light rail: “Envision 2016 to 2030”
1. What are the anticipated –or planned- funding mechanisms for full construction of the line, staffing costs, (administrative and operations), and equipment additions and replacement? Please estimate federal, state, and local contributions. Estimate any impact on all local tax rates.
2. What are the plans to prevent, fund, and manage any potential construction project overruns?
3. Once the rail is built, what’s the anticipated or estimated annual cost of ongoing maintenance and operations? Please estimate federal, state, and local contributions. Estimate any impact on all local tax rates.
4. What type of development is being anticipated or planned along the light rail corridor?
5. What commercial companies have demonstrated interest in investing and/or building along the corridor?
6. What are the plans for funding the infrastructure required for commercial and residential development of the light rail corridor?
7. What are the estimates of impact on traffic in the sector between Holland Rd./South Independence Blvd and Virginia Beach Blvd, and Newtown Rd to Thalia Road?
8. If an estimate exists at this time, what are the plans to mitigate possible congestion or the exacerbation of current congestion levels?
9. If there is no estimate and no plans, what’s the timeline for consideration, study, and resolution of any potential negative impact?
10. What is the expected or estimated annual revenue to be generated by the light-rail line as a result of commercial and residential development along the corridor?
11. What is the estimated percentage increase in local or out of state tourism into Town Center that now stays in Norfolk?
12. What’s the anticipated reverse flow into Norfolk of people now shopping at and attending Town Center businesses and events?
13. What are the plans to continue funding operations of the line if enough revenues to break-even with operating and maintenance costs do not materialize?
14. What are the contingency plans for the future of the light-rail line if such costs far exceed its revenues? What is the estimated breaking point?
15. What other revenue-producing projects are being considered for the proposed corridor if construction of light-rail does not occur?
16. Are there any other projects under consideration that could potentially cost less to build, operate and maintain while yielding similar or better revenue margins?
17. What factors will be used to evaluate the performance of the LRT line to determine the affordability and advantages of further expansion, and how to fund any extensions in the long-term?
18. Brought to the present time, what are the answers to these questions applied to the Norfolk light rail line based on its current performance and costs numbers, as of 3/31/16? Replace the Va. Beach road intersections referenced above with comparable Norfolk road intersections.
II. Vehicular Traffic and Development in Other areas
1. What are the budget plans to address the congestion in traffic chokepoints around the City, such as:
a. The Indian River Road corridor between the Interstate ramps and Pleasant Valley Road
b. Holland Road/Independence Blvd between South Plaza Trail and Va. Beach Blvd
c. Rosemont Road between Va. Beach Blvd. and Holland Road?
d. The Hilltop area
2. Is funding being considered for a study of the feasibility of Bus Rapid Transit systems or privately run and operated fixed route lines from the suburbs (the large, primarily residential areas of the city) to centralized commercial, entertainment, and service areas such Town Center, Oceanfront, the Amphitheater, shopping centers, college campuses, and medical centers areas?
3. What is currently the plan for revenue-producing development in the Southern part of the city (Nimmo Parkway/London Bridge/Dam Neck Road corridor, Princess Anne Road towards Munden Point, and the Municipal Center area towards the Chesapeake line).
4. What is the plan for funding transportation, road-widening, or new roads projects in the areas above to accommodate such development?
I realize that these are many and not easy questions to answer, but planning for the future of our community is serious business that can only be properly carried out by thoughtful, reasonable leadership. Thank you in advance for considering and responding to these questions.