NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A train of people made their way through Norfolk Tuesday afternoon, celebrating the possibility of conventional speed rail.
"I found out about it recently and when I heard we were so close to having high speed rail I couldn't help but get excited," said Natalie Balingit.
In 3 years, conventional speed rail will be a reality in Norfolk. High speed rail may take a bit longer. High speed rail is above 90 miles per hour, but conventional speed reaches about 75 miles per hour.
"We'll have rail service for the first time in over 30 years - passenger rail - so we're excited about that," said Thelma Drake, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
Drake said one year ago, Norfolk Southern said with $75 million worth of improvements, we could use the freight lines that parallel Route 460.
"It will come into Harbor Park where it will connect with the light rail and going west, it will go up the 460 corridor, connect with the track just south of Petersburg, go into Richmond, and then you can go as far as Boston - same seat," said Drake.
This was exciting news for Natalie Balingit. "We deserve it, why not us?" said Balingit.
Others worried about the cost. "We don't have the money, and we're not going to have the money for a long time. And I wish you'd stop spending the state funds to do this," said one critic at a public information meeting.
"All the localities, every state, the federal government is deep in the hole and now we're talking about digging the hole deeper," said another critic.
"What people do understand today is that we can't build enough lane aisles to deal with peak congestion times," said Drake.
Drake said public investment in transportation is a necessary investment in the future.
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