The purpose of a rail transit system

Most of the online comments on news stories published by The Virginian-Pilot in Hampton Roads have a sour, even acid tone.  However, one person (“mlsimons”) who commented on an April 24 story identified what problem will be cured by the proposed light rail system that will connect Norfolk with the Atlantic Ocean waterfront.

When it comes time to fund VRE expansion in Prince William County, the cost will be high.  No matter how generous the state/Federal government may be at the start with initial construction subsidies, county taxpayers will end up financing a high percentage of operations and maintenance.

“mlsimons” explained why investing in VRE could be a good deal – but we could still screw it up, if the Board of County Supervisors does not use all of its “carrots” and “sticks” for land use planning and shape future growth so we approve transit-oriented development (TOD) and reject more-of-the-same sprawl:

I will tell you that most of the complaints I’m reading are completely out of bounds from what light rail is intended. Its not meant to fix current traffic congestion. But to guide growth along a designated route. As the population rises, one day it will be nearly impossible to travel on any interstate during the day. This issue ultimately comes down to preventing future sprawl and future urban decay…in addition prevent future traffic congestion. The TOD is part of it too, for it will shift the tax burden away from the residential tax base, which is something all fiscal conservatives should like, although they cannot maybe see that right now.


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