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The Federal Railroad Administration has approved Virginia’s state rail plan, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) announced this week.
The plan provides long-term guidance to Virginia’s transportation leaders as they address rail needs for residents, cities and businesses. DRPT oversees programs and initiatives that support freight investments and give data-driven planning recommendations and policies for passenger and freight rail.
Virginia is planning $5.8 billion worth of passenger-rail investments comprising 72 projects and $536 million in freight-rail investments comprising 123 projects over the next 20 years. Passenger-rail projects include constructing a new two-track span parallel to the Long Bridge to expand freight and passenger train traffic over the Potomac River and expanding passenger-rail service from Roanoke to the New River Valley.
Those investments, which include track construction and grade crossing improvements, will advance Virginia’s transportation goals and ensure safety, security and resiliency in the rail network, DRPT officials said in a press release.
DRPT prepares the statewide rail plan every four years in accordance with FRA guidance. DRPT developed the plan in coordination with the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) and aligned it with the goals and objectives of VTrans, the commonwealth’s multimodal transportation plan.
DRPT and VPRA are working on planned rail improvements through partnerships with the FRA and neighboring states.
Virginia will submit three expressions of interest to the FRA for inclusion in a new federal program that will establish a pipeline of projects ready for funding: a route along the Washington, D.C., to Charlotte, North Carolina, corridor; expansion of passenger rail to Bristol, Virginia; and a southwest Virginia to Hampton Roads connection with an east-west passenger-rail corridor.