Va. Beach mayor agrees to state light rail grant

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said the state would be willing to give Virginia Beach a $155 million dollar grant to extend The Tide into the city. Layne says Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms has agreed to the grant, but in general terms.

One of the biggest obstacles blocking the road for the light rail extension to the resort city is money. The city may be one step closer to solving part of that problem, and it is getting support from Governor Terry McAuliffe.

“We’re working on general business terms that would allow the state to put funding in place, and Governor McAuliffe has been clear that he favors the extension of the Tide,” Layne said.

Related Coverage: Va. Beach considers state funds for light rail extension 

Layne says funding would be given in a multi-year grant since The Tide extension will take time.

“The state is willing to partner with Virginia Beach,” Layne said. “There is no federal monies. We are willing to be there based on Governor McAuliffe’s direction.”

Virginia Beach would have to pay the remaining half of the estimated $310 million dollar cost of extending the Tide to the resort city. But before that can happen, state officials want Virginia Beach to agree the money will only be spent on extending the current Tide system using the current technology. The state is not in favor of Virginia Beach using a magnetic levitation system, otherwise known as maglev.

“The technology being looked at maglev is not operational in United States, and it is not authorized, safety wise, by the federal authorities, so the state would not be able to invest in that type of technology,” Layne said.

Layne says the grant funding would come from transit money from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The Commonwealth Transportation Board will have the final say.

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