TIDE: You Can’t Un-eat That Burrito

Dr. James Koch, architect of Old Dominion University’s disastrous maglev project, is arguing Hampton Roads Transit’s TIDE light-rail system is too costly to complete. Well, I guess he’d know something about abandoning transit projects before they’re finished. (Kerry Dougherty, the DEW machine’s favorite paid shill, is delighted and predictably got her trollface on already.)

Questions of what actually constitutes failed infrastructure aside, the solution to bad transit isn’t less transit, it’s more transit. TIDE is going to continue to fail benefit-cost analyses until it runs from the Naval Base to the Oceanfront, like originally planned, thru South Hampton Roads neighborhoods with justifiable densities like Ghent, and with upzoning for denser redevelopment at stations near the Boulevard (something that would be improved if Virginia Beach got its act together and created a redevelopment agency, but I’m not holding my breath).

Is anyone really surprised that a transit “starter line” that contains only one critical trip-generation destination out of at least six intuitively obvious and cheap ones is going to have problematic numbers? How is that the fault of the technology rather than the officials in Virginia Beach who tabled their segment rather than face a confrontation with the sprawl-oriented growth machine? Or the ones in Norfolk who thought it would be cheaper and faster to sneak anything under the radar rather than creating an integrated system that serves most of South Hampton Roads’ most walkable neighborhoods, the majority of which are in their city?

Talk about confirmation bias! If you set the system up to fail, of course it will fail.

If TIDE is not going to work, it is the responsibility of local governments to make it work – even myopic, recalcitrant, quarrelsome ones like these. I have been saying for nearly a decade that Virginia Beach should take the money it’s saving for its Oceana Mission Encroachment Sprawlway and reinvest it in BeachTIDE, and Norfolk should take its earmarks for the ridiculous second-and-a-half crossing and spend it on BaseTIDE. Those projects can wait indefinitely, if they should even be built at all; sustainable mobility in southeastern Virginia cannot.

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~ by J.D. Hammond on October 7, 2010.

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