Feds Give $128 Million in Funding for Norfolk Light Rail Project

WASHINGTON — Norfolk’s light rail system is one step closer to reality, now that the federal government has signed a “full funding grant agreement.”

Under the agreement, the federal government will provide $128 million in tax dollars, more than half of the $232 million in capital costs for the project. The money will be allocated through 2010.

“Fighting future gridlock depends on building transit projects like this one,” Federal Transit Administrator James S. Simpson said. “Construction of  ‘The Tide’ will transform an abandoned rail right-of-way into a lifeline for those who currently depend on transit, and will help meet future travel demand to downtown Norfolk and throughout the area.”

Recently named “The Tide,” the 7.4-mile line will run from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center through downtown and along a rail corridor parallel to Interstate 264 to Newtown Road at the Virginia Beach city line. It is expected to see an average of 6,500 weekday boardings by the year 2025.

The line, including 11 stations, will be constructed along an abandoned Norfolk Southern Railroad right-of-way parallel to Interstate 264. The project also includes three new park-and-ride structures, a maintenance facility and the purchase of nine rail vehicles.

HRT plans to begin operating the line in early 2010, with service at seven-and-a-half minute intervals during peak periods.

— Special to Railfanning.org