Cities in Hampton Roads are embracing light rail. The Virginian-Pilot reports that Portsmouth officials began lobbying the state’s transportation department this week to include light rail in plans for a new Midtown Tunnel. The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to solicit proposals this spring for the design of a new two-lane tunnel that would be built next to the existing tunnel.
Next door in Norfolk, construction is under way on a $232 million, 7.4-mile light rail project that will extend from Eastern Virginia Medical School to Newtown Road. The city has committed $33 million to the project which expects to be operational by 2010.
Meanwhile in Northern Virginia, a group of businesses and residents that favored an underground tunnel for a Metrorail extension through Tysons Corner, has withdrawn a lawsuit against the U. S. Department of Transportation that sought to block the project. Tysonstunnel.org, which opposed an elevated track design for the $5 billion, 23-mile extension to Dulles International Airport, said court action is no longer needed since the government may not approve federal funding for the extension because of concerns over design and management. Virginia officials have submitted new information to the federal transportation agency in hopes of saving $900 million in federal funding for the extension.
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