Key Virginia Rail Bridge Project Completes Environmental Review

A $1.9 billion project to add a second set of rail tracks to the Long Bridge that connects Virginia to D.C. is ready to move forward with a recently completed Environmental Impact Statement.

September 17, 2020, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Arlington to D.C.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr

"With the state budget in tatters and commuter levels at record lows, now might hardly seem the right moment for Virginia to embark upon a $1.9 billion rail project. However, the recent conclusion of the Long Bridge’s environmental impact study has cleared the way for the commonwealth to do just that," reports Wyatt Gordon. 

Rail advocates and enthusiasts have been touting the potential impact of the Long Bridge project since the Draft EIS for the Long Bridge project was completed in September. But that enthusiasm increased in December 2019, when Virginia announced a $3.7 billion deal to buy 225 miles of track from CSX. This latest announcement about the completion of the EIS shows that Virginia's intercity rail ambitions are maintaining momentum through the economic fallout of the pandemic. 

Wyatt reports that funding contingencies remain for the Long Bridge project to come to its anticipated fruition. "Although the final funding agreement is still being worked out among Amtrak, the D.C. Department of Transportation and Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation, DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell isn’t worried about Amtrak’s promised $944 million contribution or the fate of the Long Bridge project."

The final project will be worth the anticipation expressed by Virginia transportation officials in the article. When complete, the project will double the rail capacity across the Potomac River, "thereby creating new possibilities of D.C. to RVA high speed rail, expanded Virginia Rail Express commuter service and increased freight from the Port of Virginia," according to Wyatt.

Monday, September 14, 2020 in The Virginia Mercury

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