HRT study will look at taking the Tide through ODU to Navy base

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Tide may eventually extend to someplace thousands of people go for work every day: Naval Station Norfolk. The plan from Hampton Roads Transit is apparently one step closer to reality.

Virginia Beach’s failed tide expansion reminded HRT of one thing: “It’s very difficult to fund these things with just local and city funds… as we know from other experiences,” HRT Chief Planning Officer Ray Amoroso said.

Amoroso said to get the Tide to the naval base, HRT need federal funds.

“Which is a very competitive national process,” he said.

Last year, HRT looked into how to get light rail from downtown to the Navy base.

“That feasibility study actually identified two potential broad corridors to serve Naval Station Norfolk,” Amoroso said.

The study revealed two routes: East and west alignments. HRT fleshed out a more definite east route plan, but not for the west.

“The problem with the end of that study was that it did not identify at a street specific level the pathway to the Navy base,” Amoroso said.

In April, a new study will start. It will be one that defines where light rail could go on west route. It should start by Eastern Virginia Medical School.

“It should connect to neighborhoods like Park Place, Lambert’s Point, Old Dominion University and serve between downtown and the naval base,” he explained.

It will look at more than just the route.

“So what streets are you going to be on? What is the purpose and need?” Amoroso said. “Who are you connecting to and which communities are you going to serve?”

When it finishes, HRT will send both routes to D.C. to compete.

“You only want the strongest project to go forward,” he said.

HRT hopes its two-pronged attack will give them a fighting chance at a federal level — one that gives the Tide a chance to expand in Norfolk.

The study is more than $1 million and paid for by federal grants at no cost to the City of Norfolk.