HRT says light rail expansion to Virginia Beach would cost $243.1 million

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The estimated cost to expand light rail from Norfolk to Virginia Beach would be approximately $243.1 million.

The budget was presented by Hampton Roads Transit at a meeting Monday at Virginia Beach Town Center.

HRT also said the light rail expansion could be done within 15 months instead of the 18 that was originally estimated.

All of the information presented at Monday's meeting will be presented to Virginia Beach City Council on Tuesday.

Almost a quarter of a billion dollars which is how much Hampton Roads Transit thinks Light Rail will cost to expand from Newtown Road to Town Center in Virginia Beach.

Light Rail isn’t expected to cost as much as what they originally projected, according to leaders at HRT.

Hampton Roads Transit President William Harrell said Monday they now think it will cost $243.1 million which doesn’t include the cost of special projects that could be added like certain community pathways or possible park and ride lots.

But HRT leaders said the new cost is $84 million less than the last projection made public in May 2015.

Additionally, the state has promised to pay $155 million dollars for the project.

“The states contribution to the project would pick up the vast majority of the cost of it. I think this is a great opportunity for the city of Virginia Beach,” said Harrell.

Supporters say Light Rail is needed to help reduce congestion problems and grow our community like other bigger cities around the country.

Harrell said, “Congestion continues to rise for the region. We need to have other mobile choices and that's really what this project is about.”

But opponents believe it’s a waste of tax payer money, they worry that no one will ride it and said they don’t trust projected numbers released from HRT.

Robert Dean said, “It’s something that's not going to work whether it's $327 million or $327 dollars. It will not work here in Virginia Beach.”

“It’s a complicated project and requires significant collaboration and coordination,” said Harrell.

The Virginia Beach City Manager is expected to present the information to city council on Tuesday.

Voters will be asked their opinion on November 8th but the vote is non-bidding, so ultimately the decision will be made by City Council, according to Mayor Will Sessoms.