Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star: Millions to fund new Fredericksburg-area train tracks among other big rail projects

FREDERICKSBURG FREE LANCE-STAR, SCOTT SHENK

The Fredericksburg region is in line to get new railroad tracks as part of a $729 million federal funding package aimed at improving the state’s railroad system.

The federal money will go toward phase two projects in the state’s Transforming Rail in Virginia program, which was launched in 2019. The federal funds come through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed in 2021.

The funding for the projects was announced Thursday at an Arlington event by Virginia officials, including Gov. Glenn Youngkin, 7th District U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

The biggest project to gain new federal funds is the plan to build a new span parallel to the Long Bridge crossing over the Potomac River between Virginia and Washington, D.C., a spot long considered a major rail chokepoint.

The new funding for phase two work also will go toward new train tracks in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

In Stafford, two miles of new track will be added to the current two tracks in the area of the Brooke Road VRE station. In Spotsylvania, four miles of new track will be added to the current two tracks near the VRE station.

The state’s first phase plan includes the addition of new third tracks in Stafford around the Leeland Road VRE station as well as in Caroline County.

The first two phases of the state plan are slated to cover projects through 2030.

The last two phases are not yet funded, but there are projects in the plans. Those plans include adding new track in Fredericksburg to connect to the new portions north and south of the city. That work would include a new bridge over the Rappahannock River.

The state rail transformation plan was launched in 2019 and includes an agreement in which the state bought 386 miles of railroad right of way and 223 miles of track from CSX Transportation. The expansion will add 44 miles of new track between Washington and Richmond.

The state essentially plans to double Amtrak service and implement more flexible schedules for VRE trains, including weekend service, with the state’s overall plan including adding more third track segments north and south of the Fredericksburg region.

According to a news release from Spanberger’s office, Youngkin said the “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 added that the impact of the rail work “cannot be overstated — it will ease congestion, make our supply chain more resilient, improve freight movement in and out of our world-class port, and boost local economies.”

Spanberger touted the bipartisan infrastructure law, saying it is helping push the state’s rail expansion forward with projects like the Long Bridge expansion as well as the new tracks in the Fredericksburg area.

The federal funds, she said, “will allow for a third track along sections of the corridor in Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania — making a massive difference for the Virginians I represent.”

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