According to Jesse Scaccia, light rail is our last best chance to live like a region. It’s a cute thought, but that’s all it is, cute. If you think building light rail is a path to regionalism, then you must place regionalism above having a public transit system that actually moves people to work and play without the use of cars. As I’ve said over and over and over again, light rail is bad for public transit.
$300 million for a light rail line that will move 1,100 people per day in 19 years. In an alternate universe where funding is unlimited that might make sense. Maybe. But in our reality of limited budgets and urban sprawl, putting this much money into a project that serves so few people is downright immoral in my opinion. Roughly 40,000 people depend on HRT buses to get them around the region every day. Under current financial conditions, HRT cannot afford to maintain those buses and bus stops as is. Add another light rail line that will require more to operate yearly than HRT currently receives for capital improvement and bus service will only further degrade.
So if you support light rail, you must accept one simple fact: you are placing your wants over the needs of 40,000 people who depend on public transit for their livelihood.
Speaking of alternate universes, Norfolk’s Development Department is definitely living in one. According to one observant Pilotonline commenter, the only one of the 25 projects that can actually be attributed to light rail is the Slover Library, but that’s only because they had to demolish the Kirn Memorial Library to make room for the track.
Cue the quote from Harry Minium, who until relatively recently covered Norfolk City Government from the pre-light rail days.
“This is not the way to win the debate over light rail in Virginia Beach. All were in the works before light rail was built.”
Oftentimes in politics you are left with a rather unsavory decision to make when confronted with situations like these. Are the people who put out this report unbelievably delusional? Or are they deliberately lying to the public in order to influence the light rail debate?
Let’s look at a few of these so called transit oriented development projects to try and answer this question:
The $24 million in Chrysler Museum Renovations. Definitely not due to light rail. Aside from the fundraising they did, this had a lot to do with the recurrent flooding from the Hague. So we could chalk that one up to climate change, not light rail.
The planned $100 million Federal Courthouse expansion. This has been in the works since the days of the failed Granby Tower project. There is no way any credible person could claim the Federal government would condition a courthouse expansion on the implementation of a light rail system.
The MidTown Tunnel Project. This one is so ridiculous I don’t even think it needs an explanation. The need for a bridge across that body of water predates American civilization by a few thousand if not a few hundred thousands years.
But perhaps there is a less devilish explanation for how such ridiculous things were included in the handout? Perhaps, but that’s all relative. According to Norfolk Planning Director George Homewood, Transit Oriented Development doesn’t actually mean development due to the expansion of light rail, but ANY DEVELOPMENT that occurs within a zone around light rail.
Need I say more?
Alternate universes, time warps, I guess this is a good follow up to yesterday’s conspiracy theory laden IYRTP. Linda Sevigny was the person who dropped the ball on the roughly $1.6 million in grant money Norfolk forfeited back to the Federal government. According to the “timely” reporting by the Pilot, she was terminated effective April 16th. The article mentioning her firing was published today, May 6th. That’s a 20 day lag time.
According to one retired NPS teacher and Civic League President who commented on my Facebook page, this was perhaps done so the news came out after former Superintendent Samuel King’s last day on May 1st.
An alternate theory is that the reporter, Ben Werner, is just getting his bearings covering the school system while filling in for Cherise Newsome, who is on maternity leave. Either way, according to prolific Pilot commenter YoLa Tengo, the real story is the deal Deputy Superintendent L’Tanya Simmons received as a parting gift.
Anyone who knows who YoLa Tengo is, please get in contact with me. I’d love to talk with whoever they are.
Last year I wrote an article about sea level rise describing the difference between relative sea level rise from land subsidence and eustatic sea level rise due to an increase in the volume of the ocean. Contrary to popular opinion, the vast majority of sea level rise in our region, from Hampton Roads down to North Carolina, is due to land subsidence, and according to a new report from the North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission science panel, greenhouse gas emissions have nothing to do with the situation either. Here’s the money quote from the article:
“The most important fact that everyone needs to understand about sea level rise is that it has not accelerated at all in response to human greenhouse gases,” he said.
This comes on the heels of another report out of North Carolina from the esteemed and credible Duke University. This one calls into question the validity of the models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In layman terms, it disputes the spatial interpolation techniques used to estimate global temperatures. Okay, so that wasn’t really in layman terms.
Basically when you hear someone say it is the warmest year on record or things like that, those claims are based on a technique that makes an educated guess as to what temperatures are on the globe where we don’t have a weather station. This is called interpolation, and there are various techniques to accomplish it.
According to the article about the report, “Global warming hasn’t happened as fast as expected, according to a new study based on 1,000 years of temperature records.”
The research claims that natural variability in surface temperatures over the course of a decade can account for increases and dips in warming rates. But it adds that these so-called ‘climate wiggles’ could also, in the future, cause our planet to warm up much faster than anticipated.
The study compared its results to the most severe emissions scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “Based on our analysis, a middle-of-the-road warming scenario is more likely, at least for now,” said Patrick Brown, a doctoral student in climatology at Duke University. “But this could change.”
The Duke-led study says that variability is caused by interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, and other natural factors.
So contrary to what the Pilot Editorial Board and most of the mainstream media would have you believe, man made climate change is not settled science. Of course we have an effect on the climate, but how much and to what extent we can reverse it is far from settled.
Our current understanding is based on models that make estimates for temperatures and other data for areas of the earth where we don’t have direct quantitative data. They are constantly updated and improved as more data and better techniques become available. Perhaps one day we will stop learning more about our planet and if that day ever comes, that will be when the climate science debate is truly settled.