Emily Stock listens to a question from the audience at the July 11

Officials Answer Questions about DC2RVA Rail Options in Fredericksburg

by | Jul 12, 2016 | Government

By Susan Larson. Photo copyright Fredericksburg Today.

A large number of residents turned out for a community information meeting in Spotsylvania on July 11, 2016, about the proposed D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail (DC2RVA) project.

Representatives from Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) provided a project status update, followed by a question and answer session. Many in the audience voiced frustration and anger about the possibility of a Fredericksburg freight-train bypass being built through their neighborhood or on their property.

A two-track bypass to the east of the city is one of three options being investigated. The exact route for the possible bypass has not yet been determined, but it would necessitate a new railroad bridge across the Rappahannock River. The exact route — based on the general route now in consideration — will be determined following completion of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS), expected in fall 2016.

The other two options include adding a third track through Fredericksburg on the east side of the existing tracks, and not adding any tracks through Fredericksburg, but making improvements to station platforms, crossings, signals, and safety systems. Passenger trains would continue to stop in Fredericksburg under all three alternatives.

“We are drafting an environmental impact statement (EIS) to determine what kinds of properties would be effected,” said Emily Stock, manager of Rail Planning at the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. Considerations include rural and suburban land use, homes, private property, existing transportation networks, wetlands, cultural resources and military bases. Public input is welcome now, and again once the draft EIS is released in fall 2016.

“Public comment is a huge part of the project, and it will be taken into account by the Federal Railroad Administration when making final decisions,” Stock said.

The 123-mile D.C. to Richmond (DC2RVA) rail project is a link between Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The purpose of the project is to increase reliability, improve frequency through additional service, and reduce travel time of rail.

The corridor is currently at capacity, according to CSX, which owns the tracks. Trains passing through Fredericksburg daily include 20 Amtrak, 16 Virginia Railway Express, and 20 CSX freight.

Four options are being considered for the entire project — all 123 miles. Stock said they will be chosen for what is best mile-by-mile. They are:
Minor Improvement Option
Existing two tracks
No additional capacity

Constrained Alignment Option
Three-track design
Maximum speed up to 90 miles-per-hour reached in some areas
Within the existing railroad right-of-way constraint

Unconstrained Alignment Option
Three-track design
90 miles-per-hour in some areas
Follows corridor, but can go outside existing railroad right-of-way

West/East Track Alignment Option
One-track design
Add to west/east side of existing main line
Match current main line speed of 70 miles-per-hour maximum
May outside existing railroad right-of-way

Virginia’s DRPT will hold public hearings and receive public comment on the final draft EIS, beginning in fall 2016. That will inform the final EIS, scheduled for release in 2017. Following that will be permitting, design, right-of-way, and construction.

DRPT is requesting input and ideas from all citizens. You can:
Join the mailing list to receive project updates and newsletters
Submit an online comment form
Encourage friends, family, coworkers and neighbors to participate
Watch for media coverage, mailers or email notifications about project updates
Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter

Visit the DC2RVA Ways to Get Involved website for details.

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