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The Future of Hampton Roads


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The Hampton Roads Metro has so much cultural, recreational, and economic potential that could ensure economic stability for the years to come.. We have the Port of Virginia, the largest Naval installation, the Oceanfront, Downtown Norfolk, VBTC, the Peninsula, warehouses && agriculture in Suffolk, the Shipyard, I could go on and on.. What needs to be done in order to

  • Attract higher paying jobs

  • Improve infrustructure to support the growing economy

  • Attract more tourists to the region

  • Convert the back stabbing city governments to one central regional governing body

  • Better our colleges and universities

  • Reverse urban sprawl

  • Lure company relocations

  • Increase population


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This needs to come first: Improve infrastructure to support the growing economy

The congestion on Hampton Roads chokepoints is so bad at key times that this area often operates as three separate metropolitan areas. If westbound HRBT routinely has a 7.5-mile backup to Granby at rush hour, someone who lives on the Southside will be much more inclined to find employment on the Southside. Similarly, low level of service at the Downtown and especially Midtown tunnels restrict movements between the two sides of the Elizabeth River. When companies are scouting for relocation, they will notice Hampton Roads' marine and military assets, but also our lack of public transportation, car-dependent development patterns, and our sore lack of intra-regional transportation capacity.

Reverse urban sprawl:

Virginia Beach and Suffolk seem to be the most committed cities to doing this. Va Beach designated Strategic Growth Areas, half of which are along the city's spine near I-264, to absorb mixed-use development in the following years. They fully intend to continue developing their Pembroke CBD and to revitalize the Oceanfront, and the Light Rail study is now underway, which would augment the already excellent linkage of these areas to the area-wide transportation system. Suffolk, in their comprehensive plan, highlight the fact that their city needs to have two fully urban areas: one in downtown Suffolk, but the other one, more importantly, in the Harbor View/I-664 extreme northeast corner. They intend to capitalize on the fact that the MMMBT from Newport News actually lands you in Suffolk, and their job is made easier by Portsmouth's and Chesapeake's shortsighted planning.

Chesapeake is probably one of the worst offenders. With plentiful land still available for development, and no official growth boundary like in Virginia Beach, they neglect key areas with excellent linkage and potential like South Norfolk, the Military Highway corridor, and Western Branch, and pool all of their resources into moving the center of population south of Great Bridge. I do not expect a change of direction from them.

Newport News is rather similar, they ignore everything south of Mercury Blvd, and have created a middle-class downtown at Oyster Point. They, however, are very close to running out of greenfields, so the eventual revitalization of their original Downtown and southeastern community needs to begin soon. In fact, they already have ambitious plans for the latter.

Portsmouth is the most land-starved, and tax-starved city in Hampton Roads, so they need to get the most value out of their land; it puzzles me then why their midtown is so depressed in every possible way. The city needs an influx of high-paying jobs, and a mixed-use development in Midtown could really go a long way. Norfolk is just Norfolk... very little growth, slow gentrification of Downtown, but the commercial activities are concentrated along Military Highway and Little Creek Road. The I-64 corridor light rail will hopefully revitalize those areas, and make them more accessible to downtown. Hampton's success depends on how well the Coliseum Central mixed-use redevelopment is done.

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