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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

HRT: More delays, overruns unlikely

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After months of construction in downtown Norfolk, Va., light rail is coming into focus - as are the latest questions about Hampton Roads Transit's long-anticipated project, local media report. Major construction wrapped up earlier this month, and testing will begin in the fall. Now the city is counting down to see if the Tide makes its scheduled start date of next May.

"There's a certain amount of float in every project and one of the things that I'm used to doing in projects like this, you find ways to make up lost time," said Vice President of Rail Operations Jim Price.

Price and Public Outreach Coordinator Tamara Poulson fielded questions from the Downtown Norfolk Civic League. The Tide is already tens of millions of dollars over budget and a year behind schedule, but Price said more delays or cost overruns are unlikely.

"I think our new CEO, Philip Shucet, is very adamant about watching every single cent," Price said, "watching where it goes."

There is a problem of two faulty rail crossings at Ingleside and Bristol, with a cost of $200,000 to fix. That money came out of HRT's contingency fund.

Light rail testing will begin this fall along with the public safety outreach program.

"We'll be on the radio. We'll be on TV. We'll be anywhere where anyone will listen," promised Poulson. "We'll be there."

Just as HRT wants people to ride the Tide, they also want everyone to buy into the commitment for safety needed for such a large project.

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