Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: GETTING THERE: Rail crossings upgrades part of long-term rail expansion

FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE-STAR, SCOTT SHENK

More details were released last week on the two area rail crossings that garnered federal funding for safety improvements.

Rail crossings on Brent Point Road in Stafford County and Summit Crossing Road in Spotsylvania County were tabbed for a portion of the $3.2 million in federal funding as part of the federal bipartisan infrastructure law. The funds also will go toward improvements at two crossings in Hanover County.

The four rail crossings are all in rural areas with narrow roads and two gates with flashing lights.

The improvements at the rail crossings involve adding “four-quad gates,” meaning there will be four gates at the upgraded crossings, a design to prevent vehicles from crossing when the gates are down for a train.

The upgrades also are designed to improve safety with an eye on the planned rail corridor expansion that will add a third track through the area. That expansion is expected to increase train traffic along the corridor.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D—7th, joined U.S. Department of Transportation Undersecretary Carlos Monje Jr., Virginia Transportation Secretary W. Sheppard Miller III and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation officials at the Virginia Railway Express station in Spotsylvania last week to mark the funding for the rail crossing upgrades.

“Today is an exciting moment for the commonwealth — and it’s particularly exciting for me, a Member of Congress who was vocal about the need to get the bipartisan infrastructure law done,” Spanberger said at the event.

She added that the funding is “proof that the bipartisan infrastructure law continues to pay dividends for Virginia’s physical infrastructure and Virginia’s economy. And with the completion of this project, it will also be an investment in peace of mind for our neighbors and our communities.”

Director of the DRPT Jennifer DeBruhl noted that the crossing improvements are part of a bigger plan.

“The rural rail crossings are located along an important rail corridor and essential economic driver for Virginia,” she said. “Making these investments today will allow Virginia to advance its ambitious rail goals while at the same time meeting community expectations for safety and reduced community impacts with the expansion of rail service.”

The federal money for the safety improvements comes through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, approved in 2021 in an effort to inject more than $500 billion into improving the U.S. infrastructure over the next decade.

The state will pay $650,000 in matching funds for the crossing projects with the counties each adding $150,000 in matching funds.

Work on the crossings is expected to start in 2024.

Overnight closures set for express lanes

Full, overnight closures are scheduled for a section of the Interstate 95 express lanes next week for work on the 10-mile extension in Stafford County.

The full closure of I-95’s electronically tolled lanes is set for the section between State Route 610 and Old Courthouse Road, between midnight and 4 a.m. Monday through Friday, according to toll lane operator Transurban.

Prior to the full closure of the section of the express lanes there will be a single-lane closure starting at 8 each night.

The express lanes are regularly closed between midnight and 2 a.m. on weeknights for the lane direction reversal. When the lanes reopen, the entry points near Courthouse Road and Route 610 will remain closed until 4 a.m. The southern-most entry point to the express lanes during that time will be near Dumfries Road.

Work on the $640.2 million project started in 2019, with the express lanes extension set to open near the end of the year.

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