CHESAPEAKE -- Light rail could extend into Chesapeake.

City Council Tuesday passed a resolution requesting Hampton Roads Transit go after state and federal money to study extending light rail to the Greenbrier area.

In June, council made light rail a transportation priority for the city, saying major development in the Greenbrier area was expected over the next 20 years. The city noted that with Light Rail service currently operating in the City of Norfolk and studies underway to extend Light Rail to Virginia Beach and the Norfolk Naval Station, a study of an extension to the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake is a logical next step in the development of the Light Rail system.

The city's Master Transportation element of the 2035 comprehensive plan designates a trunk line for mass transit which follows the existing Norfolk-Southern rail line running north/south from South Norfolk through Greenbrier, as a future passenger rail corridor.

13News Now report: Chesapeake Council discusses light rail possibility

'The Greenbrier area was identified as a candidate for mass transit as part of the City's Comprehensive Plan. The 2035 Comprehensive Plan, adopted February 25, 2014, recognizes the need to identify and preserve future mass transit corridors,' said Earl Sorey, the Assistant Director of Public Works, during his presentation Tuesday.

Funding options include the Regional Surface Transportation Program, which is administered through the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.

The City has submitted an application for RSTP funding; however, the money would not be available until Fiscal Year 2021, he noted.

The requested funding is for a Corridor Planning Study, which would examine potential ridership, type of service needed (light rail, diesel units, bus rapid transit, or enhanced bus service) alignment options, community and environmental impacts, capital costs, and growth trends. It would also identify any options that would be considered fatally flawed, Sorey explained.

The information from this preliminary study could then be carried forward in the development process. Other required phases that would follow the initial study include preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, Development of a Locally Preferred Alternative, Engineering & Permitting, execution of a Full Funding Grant Agreement, and finally construction.

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