Posts Tagged ‘Long Bridge’

Environmental Review Completed for New Bridge Over Potomac River Near Washington

September 11, 2020

An eEnvironmental plan for replacement of a bridge in Washington has been completed.

The Long Bridge, which is owned by CSX, is used by Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express, CSX and Norfolk Southern to cross the Potomac River between Washington and Virginia.

The bridge has long been a rail chokepoint and has just two tracks.

Built in 1904, it is operating at 98 percent capacity during peak traffic periods, a fact that has precluded expansion of rail passenger service.

Plans are in the works for Virginia to fund construction of a new two-track bridge over the Potomac that will be used only by passenger trains.

Officials said the completion of environmental work means the project can advance to the final engineering, design, financing and construction phases.

The $1.9 billion project now is eligible for additional federal financing opportunities.

Virginia Announces $3.7B Rail Passenger Expansion Pact

December 21, 2019

An agreement involving Amtrak, CSX and the Commonwealth of Virginia would result in hourly rail service within 10 years between Washington and Richmond.

The $3.7 billion pact will also pave the way for expansion of intercity rail passenger service to other parts of the state.

CSX will get increased capacity on its lines that are used by Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express commuter trains.

State officials said the agreement will give Virginia control over 350 miles of railroad right-of-way and 225 of existing track in three rail corridors.

This includes the former Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac line now owned by CSX between Richmond and Washington.

As part of the agreement, the double-track mainline through Ashland, Virginia, will remain unchanged.

Central to the agreement is the Long Bridge, a two-track structure over the Potomac River at Washington that is used by CSX, VRE and Amtrak and is at near capacity during peak times.

Virginia will be allowed to build and own a new bridge parallel to the existing structure that will be used only for passenger trains.

That bridge, which is now undergoing an environmental review, will also contain a span for bicycles and pedestrians.

The existing Long Bridge, which is 115 years old, will be reserved for use by CSX.

Virginia will build and own separate tracks for passenger service between Alexandria and L’Enfant Station in Washington.

The state also plans to build a flyover near Springfield and Franconia to allow passenger trains to cross from the east side of the rail line to the west to cross the new bridge.

The bridge project is expected to be completed by 2030 although it could open as early as 2028.

The first phase of the expansion project will involve building four miles of track in Fairfax County from Franconia south to Lorton by 2024.

The second phase will add by 2026, adds 19 miles of track, including the flyover in Fairfax and a third track in Hanover County north of Ashland that would serve as a siding for coordinating rail traffic.

An additional six daily Amtrak Northeast Regional trains will be added between Richmond and Washington with the first additional train launching in 2020.

Additional trains are planned to Norfolk in 2010 and to Newport News by 2026.

Amtrak now has five Northeast Regional trains that serve Richmond via the Staples Mill Road Station in Henrico County.

But just two of them stop at Richmond’s Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom.

Four more Amtrak long-distance trains stop at Staples Mill and Virginia wants to see those trains able to serve Main Street Station.

In announcing the rail expansion plan, Virginia transportation officials said its purpose is to relieve traffic gridlock on Interstate 95.

They said that the cost of expanding rail service is one-third of the cost of adding a new I-95 lane.

VRE service to Northern Virginia, including additional trains through Manassas, are expected to relieve rush-hour traffic on I-95 and I-66.

CSX will receive $525 million from the state for the right-of-way and existing track on three rail lines.

That includes half of the 112 miles of right-of-way and 39 miles of track that CSX owns between Richmond and Washington, passenger train rights to 30 miles of track between Richmond and Petersburg, 75 miles of right-of-way on CSX’s abandoned S-Line between Petersburg and Ridgeway, North Carolina, and 173 miles of right-of-way and 186 miles of track on the Buckingham Branch Line between Doswell and Clifton Forge.

Amtrak is expected to contribute $944 million to the project, which also would be financed by the state and regional partners, including the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, co-owners of VRE.

State funding will come from Virginia’s partnership with the federal government on the Atlantic Gateway project in the I-95 corridor, and regional toll revenues from the I-66 expansion inside the Capital Beltway. The project would require authorization of bonds, but not for tax-supported debt.

VRE capacity would increase by 75 percent, leading to 15-minute headways during peak service hours. Additional service will be added on weekends.

The additional VRE service will include five daily VRE trains between Spotsylvania County and Washington and four additional VRE trains on the Manassas Line between Washington and Broad Run in Prince William County.

Virginia officials will need to reach an agreement with Norfolk Southern, which owns a portion of the Manassas Line.

The agreement also has the potential to enable Maryland-funded commuter rail service MARC to expand service from Baltimore into Northern Virginia once the new Potomac River bridge is completed.

MARC service now operates no farther south than Washington Union Station.

Public Hearing Set on Long Bridge Project in Washington

September 7, 2019

Public comment is being sought on a proposed project to rebuild the Long Bridge over the Potomac River between Washington and Virginia.

The bridge is used by Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express, Norfolk Southern and CSX and is the only railroad crossing of the river between the district and Virginia.

The Federal Railroad Administration and District of Columbia Department of Transportation recently completed a draft environmental impact statement regarding the project.

A public hearing will be held on Oct. 22 and comments are being accepted through Oct. 28.

The bridge is owned by CSX and the project will involve either rebuilding or replacing the two-track bridge, which was built in 1904.

The study examined a 1.8-mile section between RO Interlocking near Long Bridge Park in Arlington, Virginia, and the L’Enfant Interlocking near 10th Street SW in Washington.

Bridge Project Halts Rail Expansion Planning

May 2, 2019

A railroad bridge project in the Washington area has put on hold planning for additional Amtrak service to Virginia.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation said it has shelved for an indefinite period of time any thoughts about paying for additional intercity rail service.

The department is also taking part in the environmental impact study of rebuilding the Long Bridge, the only rail line between Washington and Virginia that feeds Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

Officials say the bridge in Arlington, Virginia, is at 98 percent capacity.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine said the study will examine expanding capacity of the two-track bridge, which is used by Amtrak, CSX, and Virginia Railway Express.

The project is being led by the Department of Transportation of the District of Columbia. Also involved in the project is the Federal Railway Administration.

Built in 1904, the bridge spans the Potomac River near the Pentagon.

A website devoted to the project notes that increasing the capacity of the bridge would also “improve the reliability of railroad service through the Long Bridge corridor.”

Virginia DRPT Director Jennifer Mitchell said the project is a high priority.

“All of the passenger rail service we have today — the service that does originate in Roanoke, the service that originates in Hampton Roads, anything that comes from North Carolina — everything funnels over that bridge.

“We can’t expand any more passenger rail or get any more slots until we’re able to expand that bridge, and the cost could be from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. It’s a big project, but we’re not going to fund it ourselves,” Mitchell said.

“We’ll clearly need other sources of funding, federal funding, other state funding. In this six-year plan, we’ve really prioritized that project and some of the Virginia approaches into that project because we recognize how important it is for the whole state. That’s really where we’ve directed a lot of our funding.”

The environmental study began in 2016 and hearing on a draft of it is expected to be held this summer with the final report released in early 2020.

One interested observer is Ellen Tolton, the community development block grant coordinator and the project leader for the efforts in Bristol, Virginia, to bring Amtrak service to that community.

Bristol has not had scheduled intercity rail passenger service since 1971.

“The city knew from the beginning this would be a long process and we will continue our efforts to advocate for bringing passenger rail back to Bristol,” Tolton said. “We do not know at this time how this new information will affect our progress, but we have demonstrated the benefits and need for rail in Bristol through the recent Economic Impact Study and we will continue to move forward, working with local stakeholders, state officials and vested localities.”

Bristol officials want to see an existing Northeast Regional train extended from Roanoke, where it now originates and terminates to Bristol.

A study found that extending service to Bristol would net between 75,400 and 99,300 additional passengers.

Although extending Amtrak service from Roanoke to Bristol would not be directly affected by the Long Bridge project, a decision by Norfolk Southern, the would-be host railroad between the two cities, to halt its involvement in the process has stymied the expansion.

NS said it was focusing on other parts of its business.

“We’re still working with Norfolk-Southern on the status of getting that advanced,” Mitchell said. “Right now, it is still something we’re looking very closely at — particularly incrementally to be able to get to the New River Valley as well.”