Bristol Herald Courier: Virginia secures $729M in federal rail funding

BRISTOL HERALD COURIER

On Thursday, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and others announced $729 million in federal funding has been secured for Transforming Rail in Virginia Phase 2 projects.

U.S. Representatives Don Beyer, D-08; Gerry Connolly, D-11; Abigail Spanberger, D-07, and Jennifer McClellan, D- 04, also participated in the event in Arlington, according to a written statement.

The funding will support the completion of a new Long Bridge across the Potomac River to connect Washington, D.C. and Virginia, make improvements to L’Enfant Station, and lay a third track along sections of the corridor in Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania Counties.

This will help alleviate current bottlenecks, expand capacity, and improve reliability for Virginia commuters, travelers, and freight. The TRV projects will help expand Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) rail services between D.C. and Raleigh, N.C.

In addition to additional service to current destinations, these projects are also a necessary intermediate step for future passenger rail service for the New River Valley and Bristol, according to the statement.

The funding was awarded through the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Warner, Kaine, Beyer, Connolly, and Spanberger helped pass in 2021.

“We’re thrilled we secured federal funding to support the construction of a new Long Bridge across the Potomac River and expand rail capacity and reliability in Virginia,” said Senators Warner and Kaine. “This is another example of how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is improving transportation networks, reducing congestion, and supporting economic growth in communities across Virginia and the country.”

The White House announced $8 billion in total funding for these and other programs nationwide Thursday.

“This investment will help transform the rail system in Virginia, improving the flow of people and goods not only within the Commonwealth, but up and down the entire East Coast,” Youngkin said. “I appreciate the collaboration between our senators, our congressional delegation, and our Secretary of Transportation to finalize the funding for this critical project this year and get this accomplished expeditiously.”

The existing Long Bridge is the lone rail link between Virginia and Washington, D.C., and serves as the main rail connection between the Southeast and Northeast for passenger and freight rail. It has been operating at near maximum levels for years. It is now expected to cost $2.3 billion – up 10% from last year – and be completed by 2030.

“This grant is great news for Virginians,” said DJ Stadtler, executive director of Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. “The full funding of our Transforming Rail in Virginia Phase II projects, in particular, Long Bridge will result in a transformative increase in rail travel in the Commonwealth and along the East Coast. VPRA is grateful for the immense support we have received from our Virginia senators and Congressional delegation for this initiative. Their support has been immeasurable.”

The Long Bridge expansion is estimated to contribute $1.1 billion annually to the national economy and support 17,750 jobs.

Specifically, the funding will be used for:

Long Bridge project: Design and construct a new Long Bridge between Arlington and D.C., including five rail bridges and two pedestrian/bicycle bridges. Once completed, the four-track corridor will allow for the separation of passenger and freight rail.

L’Enfant Fourth Track and Station improvements: Construct approximately one mile of mainline track through and around L’Enfant Plaza in D.C., VRE’s busiest station, and make improvements to the existing station platform.

Neabsco Creek to Woodbridge third track: Design and construct three miles of a third track in Prince William County.

Aquia Creek third track south: Design and construct approximately two miles of a third track in Stafford County.

Crossroads third track: Design and construct approximately four miles of a third track in Spotsylvania County.

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