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1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Norfolk, Virginia Light Rail

Construction is about to commence for the new light rail line in Norfolk, Virginia. The following are some facts about the line:

Length: 7.4 miles
Cost: $232.1 million (2006 Dollars)
Number of Stations: 11
Estimated Opening Date: January 2010
Estimated Daily Ridership: 6,000 - 12,000
Number of Vehicles: 9
Power Supply: 750 VDC
Maximum Train Length: 2 vehicles initially with space reserved to extend platforms for 3 vehicles
Service Frequency: 7.5 minutes peak, 15 minutes off peak, 30 minutes early morning & late evenings
Speed: 55 mph on railway corridor segment, 25 mph on city street reservation
Estimated End-to-End Travel Time: 21 minutes and 36 seconds

The following are some images from the Environmental Impact Statement and other planning documents:

The Route

The western terminus across Brambleton Avenue from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital

The route through the downtown area

Street veiws of Monticello Avenue Station

Crossing of the site formerly occupied by the Kirn Memorial Library

Alignment in way of Harbor Park Stadium

Alignment in way of Norfolk State University

Computer simulation of Norfolk State University Station (More recent graphics of this area show the line on an embankment rather than a bridge structure.)

Vehicle maintenance and storage area

Various street views along the eastern end of the line including the existing railroad bridge over Broad Creek

The eastern terminus at Newtown Road (The parking area will displace some existing residences and commercial buildings.)

Some views of typical station architecture

The line is to be 7.4 miles in length. The budget to build the line is $232.1 million, which works out to be $31.4 million per mile. This is less than two-thirds the cost per mile of the light rail line being built in Charlotte and half the cost per mile of the light rail line being built in Phoenix. Meeting this budget will be a severe challenge.

For more information, see Hampton Roads Transit's "Ride the Tide" website:

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #2

Norfolk light rail nears reality; it now has a name, too
The Virginian-Pilot
© June 27, 2007 | Last updated 9:09 AM Jun. 27


Ride the Tide.

It has nothing to do with surfing, chilling out or the pull of the moon.

It's what transit leaders want people to do instead of driving.

Norfolk is close to landing a starter light rail line, and if all goes as planned, it will be called the Tide, Hampton Roads Transit officials announced Tuesday.

Consultants say that in addition to being simple and bold, the name suggests reliability.

It is expected to be approved by the regional transit board Thursday.

"I like the linkage with the water," Mayor Paul Fraim said. But he indicated he was partial to another proposed name - Hampster, which he said evokes fun and busyness.

Other finalists: Bay Runner, First Rail, Dash, Bay Breeze, Sail and Shore Line.

The light rail's last hurdle - a commitment of federal money - is expected in September.

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #3

Norfolk's light rail gets the green light

By DEBBIE MESSINA, The Virginian-Pilot
© September 30, 2007


Take a video tour of Norfolk's light railFor years, light rail existed only in planning documents and on city wish lists. Now, it’s real.

How real? Federal transit officials are coming to town Monday to hand over a bundle of cash to build it.

Not real enough? Construction is scheduled to start in November.

The $232.1-million starter light rail line cleared the final hurdle in Congress on Saturday .

In early 2010, “The Tide” will begin moving passengers along a 7.4-mile route from Eastern Virginia Medical Center through downtown and along an existing freight rail corridor to Newtown Road at the Virginia Beach city line. It will have 11 stations and is projected to carry 7,130 to 11,400 passengers a day.

Many wondered whether that day would ever come – even those closest to the project.

“It’s hard to believe this day is here; I’m beside myself,” said Councilman W. Randy Wright, who shepherded it through technical, financial and political reviews for nearly a decade. “I’m almost speechless.”

“Look around America – you don’t see many cities our size getting rail projects,” he added. “Certainly, we’ve beat the odds. At many times, it seemed like insurmountable odds.”

Hampton Roads Transit’s original plan was to run the train all the way to the Virginia Beach oceanfront, but Beach voters rejected the idea and the Beach council backed out. Norfolk decided to proceed on its own.

Then federal rules changed, and the project was basically put on hold for three years while authorities scrutinized the cost, the ridership and the benefits. What resulted is the least expensive light rail project, in cost per mile, put up for approval by the Federal Transit Administration.

“We’re due a celebration,” Wright said.

It will start Monday with a signing ceremony for $128 million in federal money for construction. An additional $33 million will come from the city, $31.9 million from the state and $39.2 million from other federal sources. If there are cost overruns or upgrades, Norfolk will have to pay for them. Monday’s festivities will also include a lunch, an evening party and street banners, among other things. Downtown businesses pitched in to pay for some of the celebration.

“Norfolk has taken a very bold leadership role, not for its own well-being only but for the well-being of the region,” said Cathy Coleman, president of the Downtown Norfolk Council.

Although the rail line can succeed on its own, according to FTA calculations, the goal is to expand it into other parts of Norfolk and into adjacent cities.

“Our core city of Norfolk recognized this regional transportation effort had to start,” Coleman said. “It helps put us on the map as a progressive city. It elevates our stature as a progressive region.”

Extensions to the Norfolk Naval Base, Old Dominion University and Norfolk International Airport will be considered. Opinions of light rail may be softening in Virginia Beach since the 1999 referendum, although the Beach council has not formally discussed the possibility of an extension there.

Since the vote, MacArthur Center became established and residential development boomed in downtown Norfolk, and Town Center was built in Virginia Beach.

Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf said she’s heard from businesspeople, particularly around Town Center, who want light rail, as well as from residents.

“Our demographics are changing; we’re having more people come from other parts of the U.S. who are used to riding transit,” said Oberndorf, adding that she does not yet have a position on light rail.

For now, HRT is focused on building the first segment.

Last week, HRT’s commission voted to buy nine new light rail cars from Siemens Transportation Systems Inc., piggybacking on Charlotte’s order for vehicles for its rail line under construction in North Carolina. The cost, including support and spare parts, is $36 million.

Also, the first of 11 construction contracts has been advertised for building an elevated section of the line between Harbor Park and Brambleton Avenue near Norfolk State University. About 30 contractors turned out for a pre-bid meeting. That contract will be awarded in early November, and construction is expected to begin in mid- to late November.

By late January, a total of five contracts are to be awarded. Come February, construction activities should be under way along most of the route.

HRT officials said that communicating with the public during the construction period is critical because there will be inconveniences, traffic congestion, noise and disruptions to businesses and neighborhoods.

To open dialogue, two community meetings are being planned for late October, before construction starts. More will be held as the project progresses, said James Toscano, HRT’s vice president of communications.

HRT will also launch an improved Web site on Monday.

Even before the first track is laid, light rail has already started to benefit and shape the city.

Three planned developments – the Wachovia Center on Monticello Avenue and the Belmont at Freemason, and the Residence Inn by Marriott on Brambleton Avenue – were influenced by the light rail line, said Roderick S. Woolard, the city’s economic development director. “We see light rail as taking the city of Norfolk to another level – opening up transportation-oriented development opportunities,” Woolard said. Such development incorporates mixed uses around transit stations.

“If you look at cities across America with rail, whether it’s below ground, grade level or up in the air, they are the great cities of America,” Wright said. “We may not be major leagues in baseball, basketball or hockey, but we’re in the major leagues of transit now.”

Debbie Messina, (757) 446-2588,

[email protected]

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
As noted in the article above, nine light rail vehicles are being ordered for the Nofolk light rail system. They will be the Siemens S70 model and will be a continuation of the order for Charlotte. The same model is also used in San Diego and Houston. The following graphic shows one of the vehicles in Norfolk colors:

A PDF format fact sheet for the S70 can be found on the Siemens website:

Three-section articulated low-floor light rail vehicle for bi-directional operation
Track adhesion 64%
Wheel arrangement Bo’ 2’ Bo’
Track gauge 1435 mm (4' 8.5")
Vehicle length over coupler 27670 mm (90' 9")
Vehicle width 2650 mm (8' 8")
Vehicle height without pantograph 3779 mm (12' 5")
Vehicle empty weight 40 t (88,200#)
Vehicle weight when full (at 4 Pers./m2) 54 t (119,070#)
Maximum axle load 10 t (22,050#) powered bogie, 11.5 t (24,255# ) unpowered bogie
Capacity (at 4 Pers./m2, AW2) 68 seated or 56 seated with 4 wheelchair spaces, 94 standing
Maximum speed 90 kph (55.9 mph)
Line voltage DC 650 V
Traction motors (constant performance at revolutions) 4 x 200 kW at 2 500 min-1 (IEC 349-2)
Wheel diameter (new / worn) 660 mm (26.0") / 580 mm (22.8")
Minimum curve radius 25 m (82' 0")
Minimum vertical radius 94,5 m (310' 0") / 140 m (459' 4")
Traction-motor converter 2 IGBT PWM inverter
On-board power supply AC 460 V / DC 24 V
Low-floor component 70 %
High-floor section above TOR 669 mm (26.3") (with one step plus slight ramp)
Low-floor section above TOR (entrance area) 356 mm (14.0")
Door height (clear) 2100 mm (6' 11")


1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #5

First contract awarded for Norfolk's light-rail starter line
By DEBBIE MESSINA, The Virginian-Pilot
© November 9, 2007 | Last updated 11:44 PM Nov. 8


Construction of the city's long-sought $232.1 million light rail starter line, The Tide, will get under way in several weeks.

Hampton Roads Transit awarded the first construction contract Thursday for $11.7 million to Bryant Contracting of Toano. The award is about $575,000 less than budgeted.

The company will build a section of elevated track stretching a little more than a half-mile between Harbor Park and Norfolk State University, crossing over Brambleton Avenue. It's the only elevated portion of the system.

Bryant Contracting has built a number of bridges in Virginia, including Shore Drive over Little Creek and the pedestrian bridge at Town Center.

By early next year, two more contracts are scheduled to be awarded covering track and bridge work across the entire 7.4-mile line, from the Eastern Virginia Medical School through downtown to Newtown Road.

Other contracts will be advertised and awarded for stations, train crossing signals, park-and-ride lots and the maintenance yard.

The first phase of construction work will have little impact on traffic, said John Coard, HRT's chief capital program officer.

Brambleton Avenue near NSU will likely be closed overnight for a few nights while bridge beams are set across the road, he said. And Holt Street, a lightly used road into the east end of Harbor Park, will be relocated slightly east.

The effects will be greater next year when work begins downtown and along the Norfolk Southern Corp. right of way.

"There's going to be some disruption but we'll make that as minimal as possible," said Councilman W. Randy Wright, an HRT commissioner who has championed the project. "It's not going to be simple; it will be a challenge."

Michael Townes, HRT's president and CEO, said most construction work will be phased. "It will be intense in one area for a while so we're not in there a long time," he said.

To kick off nearly two years of construction, HRT is planning a number of community events and programs to keep residents informed.

A groundbreaking celebration will be held at 1 p.m. Dec. 8, at Harbor Park; the public is invited.

Two community meetings are being scheduled for the second week of December for residents to hear presentations about light rail and its impacts and to have questions answered.

Also in December, HRT and city staff will meet with businesses along the route that could be affected by the construction.

In addition, a light rail public outreach office will open sometime next month in a downtown storefront at 401 Granby St. Citizen advisory committees are also being formed.

Last month, HRT received $128 million in federal aid to build the system. An additional $33 million will come from the city, $32 million from the state and $39 million from other federal sources.

The first passengers are expected to board The Tide in early 2010.

It is projected to have 7,130 to 11,400 riders a day.

Debbie Messina, (757) 446-2588, [email protected]

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #6

Is light rail's next stop Virginia Beach?

By DEIRDRE FERNANDES, The Virginian-Pilot
© November 9, 2007


City leaders are looking at Norfolk’s progress on light rail and reconsidering their opposition to extending the line to the resort city.

Several Virginia Beach City Council members said they are interested in reopening discussions with residents about bringing The Tide line to Town Center and the Oceanfront. The move is a shift in thinking in a city where light rail has been the third rail of politics since voters defeated a proposal in 1999.

“A lot of things have changed since the referendum,” said Councilman John Uhrin, who represents the Oceanfront. “We now have destinations along the route … We have Town Center and Granby Street . I think it’s time to have those discussions again.”

Uhrin and Councilman Jim Wood said they want to hold meetings starting early next year to gauge the public’s interest in light rail and have asked Hampton Roads Transit officials to provide information and give an update on Norfolk’s plan.

“I would say that it’s on the table, but in a very preliminary manner,” Wood said.

HRT’s plan originally called for a $1 billion light rail line to run from Norfolk to the Oceanfront with a stop at the Norfolk Naval Base. But the plan lacked support from many Oceanfront business leaders, and voters in November 1999 rejected plans to study light rail by a 12-percentage point margin. A week later, the Virginia Beach City Council pulled out of regional discussions on light rail and has rarely discussed the issue in public.

That left Norfolk officials to pursue the transportation system on their own. In September, Norfolk’s $232.1 million starter line received $128 million in federal transit money and HRT awarded the first construction contract Thursday. The Norfolk line will end at Newtown Road, on Virginia Beach’s border.

Norfolk City Councilman W. Randy Wright, a light rail advocate, said he has been meeting with Beach officials and Town Center business leaders in recent months encouraging them to get on board.

“I think it’s to the advantage of both cities to extend the light rail line,” Wright said. “You’d be able to connect the two financial hubs of the cities. … Town Center and downtown Norfolk.”

Last weekend, during their annual retreat, Virginia Beach City Council members started talking about light rail again.

“I think Norfolk has done the heavy lifting,” Uhrin said. “From my understanding … The first leg is definitely the most challenging one to get funded and get on the ground. After that, extensions to that node would be easier.”

Councilman Louis Jones said he supports holding public meetings about mass transportation but thinks Virginia Beach should hold off committing to light rail until Norfolk’s system is a proven financial success.

Jones said he also wants some guarantee from Norfolk that any rail system would connect to the naval base. That would help base workers who commute from Virginia Beach and ensure the city a certain number of riders, Jones said.

Any light rail extension to Virginia Beach is contingent on the purchase of land from Norfolk Southern Corp.

City attorneys and Norfolk Southern officials have been negotiating for a 10-mile stretch of right-of-way for four years and are still millions of dollars apart. Norfolk Southern is asking for about $40 million, City Attorney Les Lilley said during the retreat.

The state’s Department of Taxation assessed Norfolk Southern’s land in Virginia Beach at $6.4 million this year.

Beach officials said they would be pleased with a per-mile deal similar to the one Norfolk has worked out with the railroad company. Norfolk will pay $5 million for a five-mile segment and extend a discounted parking plan to the company at a city garage. The parking discount is worth $2.6 million.

Beach council members said acquiring the property is a priority this year, whether they go with light rail or another form of public transportation.

Deirdre Fernandes, (757) 222-5121,

[email protected]

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
The line will have 53 road or driveway crossings. Grade separation (bridges) will be provided
for four of those crossings. Grade crossing gates will be provide at six crossings. Road
closures are recommended at fourteen locations and suggested at two others. The list of
road and driveway crossings is as follows:

Grade Separation (4 Crossings)
- Brambleton Avenue between Park Avenue and I-264
- Park Avenue
- Clairborne Avenue
- Holt Street (Adjacent to NSRR Lamberts Point branch)

Traffic Signals without Transit Priority (2 Grade Crossings)
- Boush Street (at Charlotte/Bute)
- St. Paul's Boulevard / Plume Street

Traffic Signals with Transit Priority (17 Grade Crossings)
- Colley Avenue / Brambleton Avenue
- Brableton Ave. / Red Cross Drive
- Brambleton Avenue / Botetourt Street
- Duke Street / Bute Street
- Granby Street / Charlotte Street
- Charlotte Street / Monticello Avenue
- Monticello Avenue / Freemason Street
- Monticello Avenue / Market Street (pedestrian signal)
- Monticello Avenue / City Hall Avenue
- Bank Street / Plume Street
- Union Street / Main Street
- Main Street / Water Street / Park Avenue
- Park Ave. / Harbor Park Middle Driveway
- Park Ave. / Harbor Parke Driveway and Park Ave. / LRT Crossing
- Ballentine Boulevard
- Ingleside Road
- Military Highway Station Park and Ride Lot / Curlew Drive

Traffic Signals Utilixing Signal Interconnect (3 Grade Crossings)
- Boush Street: Bute Street to Brambleton
- Monticello Avenue: Charlotte Street to City Hall Avenue
- St. Paul's Boulevard: Main Street to City Hall Avenue

Supplemental Active Warning Device (5 Grade Crossings)
- Three private lot driveways on Charlotte Street
- City parking lot driveway on Main Street
- Pedestrian trail crossing Main Street

Automatic Crossing Gates (6 Grade Crossings)
- Huntsman Road
- Corporate Boulevard
- Military Way (frontage road) east of Military Highway
- Private driveway east of Military Highway
- Kidd Boulevard
- Bristol Avenue

Recommended for Closure (14 Closures)
- Brambleton Frontage Road Entrance East of Colley Avenue
- Southampton Avenue at Brambleton Frontage Road Intersection
- Brambleton Avenue at Woodis Avenue Intersection
- YMCA Parking Lot Exit Driveway at York Street
- York Street between Dunmore Street and Yarmouth Street
- Norfolk Community Service Board Parking Lot Driveway on York Street
- Tidewater Prosthetics Parking Lot Driveways on York Street
- Parking Lot Driveway west of Duke Street south of York Street
- City Parking Lot 56 west of Duke Street on York Street
- Private Driveway north of Bute Street along Duke Street
- Private Driveway west of Duke Street along Bute Street
- Atlantic Street at City Hall Avenue Intersection
- Union Street Garage North Side Access on Main Street
- Private Driveways East of Military Highway along Curlew Drive

Suggested for Closure (2 Closures)
- Two Driveways to City Parking Lot under the Berkley Bridge
- City Parking Lot "F" Driveway east of I-264 along Main Street


81 Posts
Norfolk VA Light Rail and (construction update)

Virginia is getting its first light rail system in Norfolk Virginia with a 7 mile starter line through downtown and out to the border with neighboring city Virginia Beach. This system will be finished in 2010 as construction is underway at the moment. After construction Hampton Roads transit plans to extend the system gradually into the rest of the Hampton roads metro area. (Hampton roads is split into 7 different cities right next to each other toataling a population around 1.7 million.) Virginia Beach is purchasing (acually this week) the old norfolk southern rail line that part of the current system in norfolk is being built on and ends. Right now the tide ends right at the norfolk border but when Virgnia Beach goes ahead and decides to build (continue) the light rail it will keep straight along the Norfolk Southern line passing through countless neighborhoods and the citys new "downtown" before ending at the waterfront(the beach). Portsmoh also expressed intrest in extending the line across the river to thier side through a new tunnel (or expansion to one of the 2 already) that is being planned. Future plans also include speading the light rail into multiple lines that spread throughout Hampton roads 7 cities and beyond.

Intro poster for the new light rail system.

The LR's website.

Animation going over the route, nicely done.

A Norfolk city official goes over current and upcoming construction (good video)

Construction Overview. (presentation done before work began) Tide_System and Construction Overview_121008.pdf

LR Map

*the images will not display for some reason so i have hyperlinked them..

Some of the pics arn't working for some reason..

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #12

1,613 Posts says that the Norfolk, VA's light rail will have maximum operating speed of 66 mph. The same trains in Charlotte go up to 55 mph operational speed...odd?

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
^^In Norfolk, the maximum operating speeds will be 55 mph on the railway corridor segment of the route and 25 mph on city streets. The light rail vehicles might be capable of higher speeds; however, their operational speed will be limited to 55 mph. I don't know of any light rail lines in the United States that operate at speeds higher than 55 mph. Some are a lot slower.

81 Posts
I plan to become an operator of one of the trains for my job in college. I am going to go to Tidewater Community college for my 1st 2 years then probably transfer to ODU or NSU(which is right on the line :p). Im in my last semester of high school atm.

1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I plan to become an operator of one of the trains for my job in college. I am going to go to Tidewater Community college for my 1st 2 years then probably transfer to ODU or NSU(which is right on the line :p). Im in my last semester of high school atm.
It sounds like a fun job for a day or two. I think operating a train along the same relatively short route day after day would be quite boring.

81 Posts
Meh, if so i can have fun intteracting with all of the people, plus we go over streets and everyting so i have to keep a lookout for things. Plus Virignia Beach is trying to buy the old norfolk southern right of way to extend the light rail to the town center and oceanfront. remember its only the starter. Plus its a job for college, though i may want to move up in HRT later on, like supervisors and such, theres alot of new jobs.

81 Posts
New pics from Sky06 on UP

Utility work on Monticello.
This street is going to be compeatly CHANGED in the next few months! (construction in the background is an office tower)

Harbor Park

LR bridge over the norfolk southern rail line and a big avenue.

Near NSU

Through some neighborhoods. This portion of the line does not have alot of development at the moment because it used to be a freight line. The power lines are a factor as well.

Interstate (very clogged one) is beyond the trees to the left.


1,008 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Norfolk is sharing an order for light rail vehicles (Siemens S70) with Charlotte. I was in Charlotte a few weeks ago and took the following photos:

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