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Arlington's suit to force impact studies allowed to proceed

A lawsuit aimed at slowing the HOT lanes project planned for Interstates 95 and 395 in Northern Virginia has received an early vote of confidence.

A U.S. District Court ruled that a lawsuit filed by the Arlington County Board against the Virginia, the U.S. departments of transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration can proceed. The suit alleges that the agencies should have performed environmental and health studies, as well as traffic analysis, before moving forward with planed HOT lanes on Interstates 95 and 395.

Local homeowners will benefit from a swift resolution to the suit. Traffic congestion is an ongoing problem in Arlington, making it less desirable to commuters shopping for new homes.

Northrop Grumman just weeks away from choosing location for new headquarters

Officials say that Northrop Grumman is just weeks away from deciding where to establish its new headquarters. Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia are all under consideration. The company plans to open the new 300-person facility in about a year.

Fairfax and Arlington Counties are both in the running to be the defense contractor's new home town. Landing Northrup Grumman would be a significant economic boost for either county - to the benefit of local homeowners, who could see a bump in property values along with the creation of highly paid jobs.

Read more in the Richmond Times-Dispatch....

Chesterfield County citizens working on a comprehensive land-use plan

Chesterfield County is looking to consolidate 22 individual area plans into one detailed land-use plan for the entire 446-square-mile county. The county's unified plan was last updated in the 1980s.

Since that time, new building projects have outpaced the growth of infrastructure in some areas. A good unified plan would benefit current and future homeowners by ensuring a balance of commercial and residential use. That balanced development would, in turn, ensure a diverse tax base that could support needed services and infrastructure.

Hampton medical facility awarded $7.9 million

The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute has been awarded $7.9 million by the Department of Defense Naval Health Research Center. The money will be used for equipment, research, and increasing staff levels. More than 2000 patients will be treated annually at the center, which is located off Magruder Boulevard and scheduled to open this summer.

The award is likely to spur growth, and in turn benefit local property values.

Read more in The Virginian-Pilot....

Hampton eliminates 78 positions to balance budget

The city of Hampton will eliminate 78 permanent full-time positions to make up for its $19 million budget shortfall.

About 55 of those positions are currently filled. City officials will try to move employees in those jobs to current openings. "We do have plans to try to place as many of those people as possible. We have over 106 positions that are vacant and open to try to place those folks into," said City Manager Mary Bunting.

Read more at the Daily Press....

Blue crab baby boom in the Chesapeake Bay

photo by chesbayprogramThe number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay is up 60% over last year, according to scientific estimates released Wednesday. Experts say the Bay crab population in 2009 rose to more than 658 million, the most crabs counted since 1997.

New gas pipeline to increase capacity in Churchland area

Columbia Gas of Virginia is building almost five miles of new pipeline through Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk to increase capacity in and around the Churchland area. The company expects to to spend almost $8 million and complete the project in June.

The increased capacity will support development in the area, spurring growth that will benefit the real estate market.

Read more in The Virginian-Pilot....

A new look at housing affordability in Virginia

H+T mapThe Center for Neighborhood Technology has released its Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, which factors in the cost of transportation when calculating the cost of living in greater metropolitan areas.

Governors call for a rail corridor along I-81

Bob Riley, Haley Barbour, Ed Rendell, Phil Bredesen, and Bob McDonnell -- governors of Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia, respectively -- call on the federal government to help fund the Crescent Corridor, a 2,500-mile rail route stretching across 13 states from New Jersey to Tennessee and Louisiana. Besides relieving traffic congestion, the governors cite projections that say the Crescent Corridor project will create 47,000 jobs by 2020 and 73,000 by 2030.

New residents flock to Washington area

The Washington area grew over the last ten years, with new residents attracted by jobs and development. Even the inner areas such as Arlington County and Alexandria saw growth, in contrast to population declines in the 1990s.

Loudoun and Prince William counties continued the explosive growth seen in those counties in the 1990s. Loudoun was the fifth-fastest growing county in the country from 2000 to 2009, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The robust growth is good for area homeowners, who should see their property values grow along with the region's population and job opportunities.