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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

FRA, Virginia rail agency complete final EIS for Richmond-Hampton Roads HSR corridor

Today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for two routes connecting the Hampton Roads area to Richmond and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.

A newly identified route south of the James River would carry trains operating at speeds between 90 and 110 mph from downtown Norfolk through Petersburg to Richmond, while maintaining Amtrak’s current service from Newport News through Williamsburg to Richmond.

“Connecting to the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor is vital for the economic development of the Hampton Roads area,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement. “From Charlotte to Washington, there will be easy access to historic Williamsburg and to our military bases at Norfolk and Newport News.”

The new route could include up to six daily round trips between downtown Norfolk, Chesapeake, Petersburg and downtown Richmond. The FEIS also recommends that Amtrak continue to operate Northeast Regional service between Newport News and Richmond to serve the communities and attractions north of the James River.

Both routes will connect to the high-speed rail corridor in Richmond, enabling passengers to travel south to Charlotte, N.C., and north to Washington, D.C.

Following a 30-day public comment period and the resolution of outstanding issues, the FRA plans to issue a record of decision on the project, marking the final step in the environmental review. The record of decision will identify the selected route, present the basis for the decision, identify all alternatives that were considered, specify the environmentally preferable alternative, and provide information on the adopted means to avoid, minimize and compensate for environmental impacts.

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More News from 8/31/2012