Naval Station Norfolk Transit Extension Study

Download the NSNTES – May 2105 Final Report

Hampton Roads Transit and the City of Norfolk are planning for a possible high-capacity transit extension to Naval Station Norfolk. While a final decision is years in the future, the planning process will help to define potential routes and transit modes that could link The Tide light rail with the base.

An initial corridor study completed in May 2015 contained several themes:

  • The transit extension should connect many points within the City of Norfolk, not just the Naval Station.
  • An extension should provide a reasonable transportation alternative to driving a car in heavy traffic and congestion.
  • A fixed guideway connection (such as light rail) between The Tide and the base should make travel time more reliable.
  • An extension should provide parking for transit riders and allow them to connect to other transit modes.

Planning for an extension should contemplate future system expansions. Future studies also must consider specific environmental impacts, right-of-way constraints, economic development, neighborhood revitalization opportunities, and long-term resiliency, meaning it should account for rising seas and increased local flooding in Norfolk.

A corridor study needs to have a “Purpose and Need,” a process that essentially asks, “Why is the study being conducted, and what problems are being addressed in it?” Through a series of public workshops, this study produced two of them. A corridor primarily along the Eastern side of Norfolk Corridor was generally defined by Military Highway and Little Creek Road. A corridor primarily along the Western side of Norfolk Corridor that was undefined but connects downtown Norfolk through Ghent to Old Dominion University and, possibly, the Naval Station Norfolk.

The two maps broadly illustrate these ideas. Exact connection points were not defined because additional study is required on the alignment options to destination points.

Why was the study started?

Naval Station Norfolk the largest naval base in the world and is the region’s largest employment center.

The efficient movement of personnel to and from the base is critical for regional military readiness. Most days, as many as 60,000 to 70,000 people come to work at the Navy base, and many get there by driving alone.

Automobile travel regularly exceeds the capacity of the surrounding streets and highways, including Hampton Boulevard, Terminal Boulevard, W. Little Creek Road, I-64, and I-564. Delay on these roadways is routine and is expected to worsen over time.

An efficient, high-capacity transit connection to Naval Station Norfolk would provide an alternative to driving in congested traffic to access the base.

Where are the commuters to the base coming from?

  • Over 20 percent from Virginia Beach
  • Nearly 20 percent from Norfolk
  • Portsmouth, Hampton and Newport News, each contribute about 5 percent
  • One quarter of the base’s employees live outside Hampton Roads

The Navy base is critical, but it’s not the only focus

Study managers also are examining the transportation needs of other key destinations in Norfolk, including Old Dominion University (ODU), Ghent-area commercial and retail on Colley Avenue and 21st Street, Norfolk International Airport, the Lake Wright Business Park, the Military Highway commercial and retail corridor, and other adjacent local communities.

Next Steps

Following a review of the Corridor Study findings, the Federal Transit Administration’s planning staff recommended the region advance each corridor as independent studies.

  • Each corridor study is anticipated to begin in 2016.
  • The Eastern Alignment should be advanced into a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
  • The Western Alignment should be advanced into an Alternatives Analysis.

As the work proceeds, planners will keep in mind regional and local studies now underway to help guide the transit extension studies

  • The Virginia Department of Transportation’s supplemental environmental statement of a new Hampton Roads crossing will aid in development of logical termini near the Navy base.
  • The City of Norfolk’s Resiliency Planning will aid in the development of corridor alignments and project phasing.
  • City of Norfolk’s Military Circle Vision Plan will aid in alignment options and connectivity on the Eastern Alignment.

NSNTES Open City HallContact our study managers

Julie Navarrete
Transit Development Officer
Hampton Roads Transit
509 E. 18th St.
Norfolk, VA 23504
757-222-6000 ex. 6699

Jeff Raliski
Long Range Planning Manager
City of Norfolk – Department of Planning
810 Union St., Room 508
Norfolk, VA 23510