Harbor Park Multimodal Transfer Station Kicks Off
Source: Inside Business
Norfolk has scaled back its plan for a rail, bus and ferry hub, originally costing $16 million.
Instead, the city has set aside $3 million in this year’s budget, which began July 1, for a multimodal transfer station adjacent to Harbor Park.
“The budgeted amount should allow the city to construct the first phase of the multi-phased center,” said Norfolk’s director of development, Rod Woolard.
“The design of the project is now under way with the city having retained Michael Baker Corp.”
The phase-one components are a 3,000-square-foot station and a bus transfer facility similar to that located on Granby Street at Wards Corner, Woolard said.
“It is also still contemplated that a covered walkway connection will be possible between the inter-city passenger rail station and the light rail station,” he said.
Phase-one work includes a 2,400-square-foot passenger rail station with a ticketing desk, small waiting room, baggage room and bathrooms.
Philip Shucet, president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit, the quasi-public agency that operates Norfolk’s light rail system and the area’s bus system, was the former president of Baker Environmental and Baker Mellon Stuart, two business units of Pittsburgh-based Michael Baker Corp.
The U.S. Department of Transportation turned down Norfolk’s request for a $10 million grant to fund a much larger project with shops and a ferry dock for passengers shuttling back and forth to Portsmouth, as well as the Peninsula.
In the original proposal, the ferry, dock and terminal would have cost $4.4 million and the rail station $2 million.
Norfolk is preparing for 2013 when passenger trains from Richmond will pull into the station and travelers will transfer to buses or to The Tide, Norfolk’s light rail system.
Federally funded Amtrak will operate the daily service between Norfolk, Petersburg and Richmond under an agreement with the state and Norfolk Southern.
The service will cost $4 million a year to operate, state officials say, and will have to be included in the state’s biennium budget.
The state has given Norfolk Southern $87 million to upgrade its signals and track, which the rail conglomerate owns.
Should the service fail or never launch, Norfolk Southern will have a set of new signals and much improved track.
Trains laden with coal and containers travel the route into Portsmouth and Norfolk multiple times a day.
Norfolk Southern officials say freight trains take precedence over passenger trains, so passenger trains will have to move to a side track to allow freight trains to pass, which might cause delays.
City and state officials envision riders from Hampton Roads transferring to high-speed trains for a two-hour ride to Raleigh or to Washington, D.C.
Several states, including Virginia, are negotiating with Amtrak over how much states will have to pay for Amtrak service within their borders in 2013.
The Surface Transportation Board will intervene if Amtrak and states don’t reach a compromise.
There are 13 Amtrak services operating in or through Virginia today.
The state would pick up four of those services in addition to the two state-supported services.
The two state-sponsored trains are the ones launched through Amtrak Virginia.
One offers service from Lynchburg to Washington, and the other from Richmond to Washington.
The state is paying $17.2 million for the two trains to operate over a three-year period.
By Philip Newswanger