© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Full Speed Ahead on Major Initiative to Cut Down on I-95 Congestion, Expand Amtrak Access

AP Photo / Andrew Harnik

Railroads once dominated transportation in Virginia until the invention of the automobile. Now, rail is making a comeback.

Amtrak service in Virginia is about to double, and VRE service along the Interstate 95 corridor is also about to double. Governor Ralph Northam says a new $3.7 billion initiative will improve the quality of life and create new economic opportunities.

"The transforming rail in Virginia initiative will grow Virginia's economy by $2 billion annually and improve the mobility of passenger and freight rail," he says.

Northam worked with CSX, Amtrak and VRE to arrange all the details and secure funding from federal, state, local and regional sources to pay for all those infrastructure projects.

He announced the initiative at Union Station in Alexandria, where he was joined by U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who framed the initiative as an important part of the Biden administration's infrastructure plan, which the president is expected to unveil Wednesday.

"Far too many workers have been worrying not only about their safety but about the safety of their job, about their next paycheck and too many passengers have had occasion to worry about how they could get to work, the secretary said. "So we are proud to say, on behalf of this administration, help is here."

Congressman Don Beyer added, sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

Read more about the plan here

The broad outline of Tuesday’s agreement was announced in December 2019, but took more than a year to formalize. A key piece of the expansion is a new Long Bridge over the Potomac River dedicated to passenger rail.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.