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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has signed off on the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed higher-speed intercity passenger-rail project between the District of Columbia and Richmond, Virginia, the state's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) announced yesterday.
The FRA’s "record of decision" completes the EIS study process and makes the project eligible for additional federal funding to advance its planning.
“Now that environmental clearance is complete, construction of additional rail capacity in the northern Virginia region can begin,” said DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell in a press release.
In 2014, DRPT was awarded a $44 million federal grant, funding nearly 80 percent of EIS study costs. Additional investments from Virginia and CSX Corp. enabled DRPT to also complete preliminary engineering and 30 percent of design of the 123-mile, CSX-owned and operated rail corridor between Chesterfield County and the approach to the Long Bridge over the Potomac River in Arlington County, Virginia.
Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express use the corridor.
The project is aimed at increasing passenger train speed and capacity parallel to the congested Interstate 95 corridor, as well as accommodating future freight-rail growth opportunities at the Port of Virginia in Norfolk, officials said.