Inside NoVa: Virginia receives federal windfall of $729M to fund Long Bridge rail line project

INSIDE NOVA, BEN PETERS

Northern Virginia lawmakers and Gov. Glenn Youngkin gathered in Arlington on Thursday to announce $729 million in federal funding they secured to support the $2.3 billion construction of the Long Bridge rail line across the Potomac River to connect commuters and freight to the nation’s capital. 

The bridge project, overseen by the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority, is part of a larger plan intended to double the capacity of passenger rail into Washington, D.C., and Virginia from as far south as North Carolina. In addition to existing rail infrastructure improvements, the project is planned to lay a third track along key sections of the corridor in Prince William, Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

“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, a Republican, said. “This project’s impact on the commonwealth 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.”

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The financing, allocated from the recently approved federal infrastructure law, fills a critical funding gap that officials warned could have placed the project in peril.

“This really unlocks the whole project,” Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said.

But officials remain unsure how the remainder of the project will be financed. Warner suggested the state will have to allocate money to help it. 

There is also no clear timeline for when the project will be finished. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, said it’s likely to be completed in segments as funding is secured and that the bridge portion would be among the first to be finished prior to the rail extensions.

“This is great news for Virginia, but it’s also great news for the region,” Warner said.

Once completed, the four-track corridor will allow for the separation of passenger and freight rail to boost commuter capacity. Also planned are two pedestrian and bicycle bridges running parallel across the Potomac from Arlington into D.C.

Additionally, improvements will be made to the L’Enfant Plaza rail station, the Virginia Railway Express’ busiest station. 

In Prince William County, three miles of rail tracks connecting Neabsco Creek to Woodbridge will be constructed. In Stafford County, final design and construction of 2.3 miles of third track will be built, and in Spotsylvania County, design and construction of four miles of third track will be finalized.

“This federal investment is proof that the bipartisan infrastructure law is continuing to deliver for Virginia’s communities,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat. “In Congress, I’ve had the honor of representing Virginians up and down the I-95 corridor. And for years, they have been calling for stronger investments in reliable passenger rail. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Virginians I serve, I look forward to seeing these major and historic improvements in action.”

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