Richmond to Washington rail project advances
A project aimed at improving rail service between Richmond and Washington, D.C., has reached a major milestone.
The Federal Railroad Administration and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) announced Tuesday that a federal environmental impact statement study has been completed, making the DC2RVA Rail Project eligible to receive additional federal funding.
“Now that environmental clearance is complete, construction of additional rail capacity in the Northern Virginia region can begin,” DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell said in a statement.
DRPT has worked with more than 90 agencies, local governments and community groups, while conducting 23 public meetings during the past 6 years in developing a plan to shorten rail travel times between Richmond and Washington.
The resulting DC2RVA Rail Project is a 123-mile piece of the Southeast High Speed Rail proposal, which eventually would stretch to Florida.
“DC2RVA is a critical element of our vision to move more people through the entire I-95 corridor by providing safe, reliable multi-modal travel opportunities for our citizens,” Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said in a statement.
DC2RVA’s goal is to increase rail capacity to deliver additional and more reliable passenger and commuter rail parallel to the heavily congested I-95 corridor. When completed, the project is expected to bridge two growing megaregions in Northeast and Southeast Virginia. Another expected benefit of the project would be creating opportunities for freight rail growth at the Port of Virginia in Norfolk.
In 2014, DRPT was awarded a $44 million federal grant, funding nearly 80% of the environmental impact statement study costs for the project.
Additional funding from the commonwealth and Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX Corp. enabled DRPT to also complete preliminary engineering and 30% of the design of a railroad-owned-and-operated corridor from Chesterfield County to the Long Bridge over the Potomac River in Arlington County.