According to the March issue of Richmond magazine, Roanoke, Arlington, Charlottesville, and Norfolk “are planning Light-Rail Transit (LRT) in the next two to five years.” Not studying, mind you, but planning! Can anyone confirm this? Although Richmond magazine tries to give a ray of hope that Richmond may come to its senses and invest in LRT, I have my doubts. Every politician and city leader I’ve heard speak about its prospects claims it’s too expensive for the benefits received. Never mind projects like the convention center. That was totally worth it.
Here’s the semi-official list of problems with LRT in Richmond.
My summary and interpretation of the problems:
- Laying track is expensive.
- Building a maintenance facility is expensive.
- Federal funding would be needed and is not guaranteed (translation: LRT is expensive).
- Regional cooperation would be needed and is not likely (translation the suburbs won’t pay for it, therefore it’s too expensive).
To be fair, the TD article linked above does raise legitimate concerns, but how are they different in the other Virginia areas “planning” to build LRT? Why can’t Richmond overcome these challenges? Is it a lack of leadership? Is it that we have other things to spend money on, like fixing our under-performing schools or hiring more police officers?
In other Richmond news, thanks to the 804.com blog for pointing out the new Venture Richmond website (and mentioning my blog too, thanks 804.com!). Venture Richmond is the group that resulted from the Wilder-forced merger of Richmond Renaissance, City Celebrations, the River District Alliance, and the Richmond Riverfront Corp. Their website has some great stuff about all the new developments going on downtown, but I had to laugh that their list of “authentic Richmond experiences” included a canal cruise. You tell me one Richmonder you know who’s actually cruised in the canal (and I mean in those little boats they have in the summer). Go ahead. See if you can find one.