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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier this week announced a $13.1 billion transportation improvement program that includes $3.2 billion for rail projects.The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved the program, which allocates funding to highway, road, bridge, rail, transit, bicycle/pedestrian paths and other transportation projects throughout Virginia over a six-year period beginning July 1. The program resulted from public comments state officials heard at public hearings held throughout Virginia earlier this year."Nearly 400 people attended and 1,620 oral and written comments were collected. From that information, the CTB adjusted the program to reflect the needs and priorities of local officials, residents and the traveling public who use and know their transportation system better than anyone else," McAuliffe said in a prepared statement.For fiscal-years 2015 through 2020, the allocations call for $3.2 billion for rail and public transportation, and $9.9 billion for highway construction projects.Program highlights include extending the Tide light-rail system to Virginia Beach; providing two new passenger trains from Richmond to Norfolk; funding improvements in the Metro 2025 program, including upgrades for eight-car trains along the Metrorail Orange Line; and funding a second passenger train to Lynchburg.The six-year program will be updated later this year to comply with the new prioritization process, which was signed into law under House Bill 2 by McAuliffe earlier this year. Under the process, projects will be objectively selected based on regional needs, Virginia officials said in a press release.
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