NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- If you drive through the city of Norfolk a lot, you may have noticed sets of black tubes running across several streets.

It turns out, they are part of the light-rail extension study that's being conducted on the west side of the city.

See Also: Route options to extend light rail to Naval Station Norfolk

Traffic counters have been placed in eight spots along two potential routes to Naval Station Norfolk. They're on Hampton Boulevard, Monticello Avenue, Granby Street, Church Street, and Fenchurch Street.

"What we're doing is trying to figure out how many cars a day, trucks and buses and other vehicles are using those streets. We want to know what is the current traffic volume and the future year volume. Is there capacity there to handle sharing the road with the tracks for the trains as well as the vehicular traffic that will be there in the future?" HRT Chief of Planning and Development Ray Amoruso told us.

Hampton Roads Transit is also examining environmental issues, and costs. City leaders hope to pick one route by Spring 2018.

But the work doesn't stop there.

HRT will then have to conduct another study which would compare the latest study to a study conducted in 2015. The study in 2015 endorsed a route on the east side of the city. It would run along Military Hwy.

City council would then have to pick the east alternative or the west alternative.

"These projects take a long time. Six to eight years is what we're talking about from today before you possibly can ride something," Amoruso said.

That may sound like a long time, but HRT officials say that is normal for big projects like this. It took 10 years of planning before the Tide was ready for service in Downtown Norfolk.

Amoruso says right-of-way acquisitions shouldn't be a problem as HRT is looking to build the light rail tracks in the public right of way.

"There is very little right-of-way needed except where park and rides will be located or where station platforms will be built."