Sunday, September 24, 2023

Nowhere to turn: Opposition to Atlantic Avenue reroute may be out of gas

VIRGINIA BEACH — After multiple attempts to slow or stop the process of reconfiguring Atlantic Avenue at the Oceanfront, City Councilman John Moss said he and his ally, Councilwoman Jessica Abbott, have run out of strategies to challenge the project.

“I don’t think there are anymore options,” Moss said while discussing approaches to blocking the project. “There’s nothing illegal that was done there, but it was unethical, and you can’t legislate that people act in an ethical fashion.”

The road realignment would result in a cul-de-sac in front of the Cavalier Hotel, at the northern-most end of Atlantic Avenue where it intersects with Pacific Avenue near 40th Street.

The hotel’s developer, Bruce Thompson, has sought the city’s assistance with the project for more than two years, and the city has applied for state transportation grants to bring funding to the project. Although City Council approved the project, they refused to spend city taxpayer dollars on it.

“That was a miracle in and of itself,” Moss said.

In the end, Thompson had to offer $2.1 million of his own money to fund the construction.

Some city officials, including Councilman Ben Davenport, have claimed that the realignment would make the intersection safer — a claim that Moss seriously doubts.

Related story: City councilman: Atlantic Avenue redesign deal is ‘all about the money’

“There isn’t an underlying public need for this road realignment,” Moss said. “If this was a public safety requirement, then we were negligent when we didn’t fund this project with city money in the first place.

“Mr. Hansen can’t distinguish between what’s the public interest and what’s Bruce Thompson,” Moss added.

City Council has twice voted in support of the project, in 2016 and 2017. So why do Moss and Abbott voice such public opposition to the realignment?

“Because I don’t want anyone saying that Moss and Abbott stood around and did nothing,” Moss said.

Abbott could not immediately be reached for comment.

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