I doubt the citizens of either one of these cities want to increase the price they pay for gas in order to fund LRT in Virginia Beach. Norfolk and Virginia Beach are facing severe budget deficits and are in no shape to fund LRT.
So where will the money come from? Mayor Sessoms has been a debt junkie for over 15 years. The debt burden in the beach has increased exponentially under the leadership of Mayor Sessoms.
The convention center, Towne Center, and the 31st Hotel are all examples of projects which increased the debt in Virginia Beach recently.
And to what end you might ask? We still have some of the lowest paying jobs in the nation. The population of Virginia Beach peaked in 2004 at 439,141 and since that time decreased to less than 438,000 according to the latest census. A recent headline in USA today indicated that the “Sun Belt boom reaches its end”. That surely seems to be the case in our fair city. Some people would call this zero population growth. Vehicle miles traveled have been in decline over the last 4 years. And even the proponents of LRT admit that it has very little effect on traffic congestion.
The people of Virginia Beach want lasting solutions and not another white elephant.
LRT is designed for high density environments and is the most expensive form of mass transit available. The former we don’t have and the latter we can’t afford.
In March 2009, the Mayor was quoted as saying about LRT “It’s an opportunity to wean ourselves off the stranglehold of automobiles”. This after Mayor Sessoms spent $40 million of our tax dollars for an abandoned rail line that previously had been assessed at less than $8 million.
The bulk of spending that Sessoms has championed over the years simply created more low paying jobs in retail, leisure and hospitality. He now is championing a mode of transit that neither works for our city in terms of what we need nor is it futuristic in a way that would benefit our children.
What Virginia Beach needs to win is high speed rail and global air connections, a skilled workforce and the employers that need them, research institutions, high quality health outcomes, continued support of our top notch schools, and a transparent and efficient government. But most of all we need an economic development department that will focus on attracting and helping create high paying jobs.
Mayor Sessoms has a penchant for funding projects at any cost which is easy for him as he is spending other people’s money. I’m not sure how much more of Sessoms’ profligate spending the taxpayers can stand.
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