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The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $2.8 million to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in Washington, D.C., to conduct an environmental study on the proposed replacement of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River. The study would analyze alternatives and the environmental effects of constructing a new bridge to increase capacity for freight and passenger railroads, and potentially other modes, such as bikes and pedestrians. Replacing the bridge is crucial to the Virginia Railway Express' (VRE) System Plan 2040, according to a VRE press release."Expansion of the Long Bridge is the single greatest opportunity to add needed capacity to increase VRE's operation from the 30 trains that use the bridge each day during peak commuting hours," said VRE Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen.
A new bridge would be necessary for the railroad to consider expanding "run-through" service into Maryland, he added.
VRE officials plan to work with the DDOT and bridge owner CSX Transportation to determine the capacity and mix of modes the bridge needs to address and develop a plan to secure funding. Currently, the bridge is at 98 percent capacity during peak hours and is used by 56 passenger and 23 freight trains daily, VRE officials said.
By 2040, freight traffic on the bridge is expected to grow to 34 daily trains, while passenger train traffic is projected to rise to 132 daily trains, they added.