Sunday, December 26, 2010

LRT mismanagement leads to call for criminal investigation

TheVirginia DOT inspector general just issued a special review of it.  The Federal Transit Administration is looking into it.  The FBI may even be investigating fraud.  And now Norfolk city officials want their own investigation too, after revelations that the city manager withheld vital information from the public.

What is it?  The Hampton Roads Transit light-rail transit project -- another New Urbanist experiment gone awry, with more than $100 million in cost overruns.

The local political class is trying to cover their collective asses, reports the Virginian-Pilot:
Elected leaders who sit on HRT's board, which the state report concludes was often kept in the dark about light-rail costs and the hiring of consultants, said they want justice.
"If there are laws that were broken, I hope and pray they'll be enforced to the fullest extent," said Rick West, a Chesapeake councilman. "You can't not be truthful with the taxpayers' money."
Barclay Winn, a Norfolk councilman, said: "I want to investigate all the improprieties at whatever level they occurred.... And whatever remedies are out there, I want us pursuing them to the fullest extent possible."
The problems with the LRT project were so bad that now other HRT services are under the microscope.  For example:
Oversight at Hampton Roads Transit was so slack that thousands of dollars went missing from bus fare collections at the Oceanfront almost weekly, for a total of $189,000 in just over two years, state investigators said.
The total is twice what was originally believed to be missing, and represents about 20 percent of the money collected from resort trolleys.

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