After lengthy negotiations, an agreement has been reached that will provide the Commonwealth of Virginia $74.8 million in federal funds it was awarded as part of the intercity and high speed rail program created in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and funded in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project funded will triple track 11.4 miles of the Washington, DC to Richmond, Virginia rail corridor between Arkendale and Powell's Creek in Prince William and Stafford Counties.
This project is a key component of the improvements required to upgrade the Washington-to-Richmond corridor. It also advances, the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor that ultimately would allow for a 90 minute commute between Richmond and Washington, DC.
"High-speed passenger rail promises significant economic benefits for Virginia," said Senator Jim Webb. "These federal funds will spur job creation and economic growth, while helping to reduce traffic on our highways in a cost effective way."
"The average commuter along the Richmond-to-Washington corridor wastes more than 200 hours each year stuck in traffic or commuting to work. This project not only will give Virginians more transportation options. It also will create jobs, reduce rail trip times, and it has the potential to generate significant economic development along this rail corridor. I am very pleased to see this project moving forward," stated Senator Mark R. Warner.
"Over 3.6 million passenger trips were taken over the Arkendale to Powell's Creek section of the Washington-to-Richmond Corridor last year. It's these kind of targeted infrastructure investments that will improve trip times, increase reliability, and serve as the foundation of extending high-speed rail from the Northeast to Richmond and Hampton Roads." said William J. Pantele, President of Virginians for High Speed Rail, "Seventeen roundtrip intercity and commuter rail trains rely on the Washington to Richmond corridor every day , and projects like adding the third track will help the Commonwealth realize a future with fast, frequent, and reliable passenger rail service."
"This agreement is wonderful news. Improving passenger rail offers Virginians alternatives to driving at a time of volatile and rising gas prices, and improving rail in the congested I-95 corridor is particularly important since it cuts traffic and pollution by taking cars off of the road." stated Trip Pollard, Leader of the Land and Community Program, Southern Environmental Law Center
The Arkendale to Powell's Creek project includes adding capacity at one of the Washington-to-Richmond rail corridor's major bottlenecks, and the track capacity this project adds will increase the quality of service for passengers riding the Commonwealth's Regional Trains, Amtrak, and Virginia Railway Express. After competition of this project, approximately 30 percent of the Washington-to-Richmond rail corridor will be triple tracked. Further, Virginia was awarded a $44.3 million federal grant to complete the remaining environmental work along the Washington-to-Richmond rail corridor as part of the second round of grants funded through the federal intercity and high-speed rail program.
(Information provided by Virginians for High Speed Rail)
Virginians for High Speed Rail (VHSR) is a non-profit 501(C) (3) coalition of citizens, localities, economic development agencies, community organizations, and businesses that educate and advocate for fast, frequent, and reliable rail service in Virginia. For more information please visit www.vhsr.com.