Welcome to the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail Online Meeting

Click on board to expand:





Welcome back!

Thank you for joining the third online meeting for the Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail (DC2RVA) project hosted by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

DRPT, in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), is studying new intercity passenger rail service as part of a Tier II Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This online open house meeting is an opportunity for you to participate in the project and provide comments.

Please use the   arrows located on each side of the screen to navigate through this meeting.

We hope you find the information throughout this online meeting useful and easy to follow. If you have questions or comments along the way, we encourage you to click on the    button at the top left of the screen. To receive project updates, please complete the contact information on the Get Involved page.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

The Project

Scroll down to see both boards:


The Project


Project Purpose


What is Washington, D.C. to Richmond Southeast High Speed Rail?

The Washington, D.C. to Richmond, VA segment of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor is part of a larger higher speed intercity passenger rail plan identified by U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) which includes the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

The DC2RVA project will provide a critical link between the northeast rail corridor and the rest of the SEHSR corridor, enhancing the connectivity between Washington, D.C., Richmond, VA, and beyond by providing more reliable intercity passenger rail service.

In order to make the rail enhancements necessary to achieve project goals, DRPT is actively working on a Tier II Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to meet requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EIS provides federal, state, and local agencies, elected officials, and the public with information about site-specific impacts the project could have on people, places, and the natural environment.

What is the Purpose of the Project?

Current conditions experienced in the project corridor are the foundation for the project's need today. These conditions include:

  • Population growth
  • Changing demographics and adjacent urban regions
  • Demand for increased freight movement resulting from ongoing expansion of Virginia's deep water ports and intermodal facilities
  • Congestion in the I-95 corridor
  • Travel by air nearing capacity
  • Rail corridor nearing capacity
  • Air quality impacts related to automobile emissions

The purpose of the project is to develop an intercity passenger rail service between Washington, D.C. and Richmond that will provide a competitive transportation option for travelers in the corridor and beyond. Reducing travel times, improving reliability, and increasing service frequencies are key components of this strategy and will require improvements that increase rail capacity in the corridor. The DC2RVA project is working to meet the following service goals:

  • Improve on-time performance
  • Reduce trip times by 15 to 20 minutes
  • Add up to nine round trips daily

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Study Area

Click on board to expand:


The DC2RVA corridor has been divided into three sections based on common rail operation characteristics and environmental conditions.

Northern Virginia Section

This section extends from the northern terminus of the DC2RVA corridor to Spotslyvania, the southern terminus of the part of the corridor shared with the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). This area is the most heavily used section of the corridor and includes rail traffic from CSX, Amtrak, VRE, and Norfolk Southern. Much of the existing right-of-way follows a curving path along I-95. The topography is challenging, with many major waterway crossings.

Central Virginia Section

This section extends from Spotslyvania, just below VRE’s southern terminus, south to Staples Mill Road Station in the suburbs outside of Richmond. This part of the corridor is used by CSX and Amtrak. This area contains many small and mid-sized waterways and wetlands.

Richmond Section

This section extends from Staples Mill Road Station and Acca Yard to a junction where two rail routes run north-south through Richmond. This also includes a portion of the CSX Peninsula Subdivision and the Buckingham Branch Railroad, from Richmond to Doswell. The Richmond section is used by CSX and Amtrak and is a critical junction in CSX’s rail system in Virginia. Topography is challenging, particularly along the James River through Richmond.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Timeline

Click on board to expand:



As shown on the schedule graphic, we are half-way through the Tier II EIS process.

In November 2014, DRPT held Scoping meetings to help shape the issues to be evaluated and the Purpose and Need. A second round of public meetings was held in June 2015 to present the alternatives development and screening process and ask for public input on the process.

DRPT has now completed the preliminary alternatives development and screening process and will further evaluate alternatives as part of the detailed evaluation in the EIS. It is important to remember that the preferred alternative has not been decided. We want to hear from you regarding the proposed preliminary alternatives presented in this meeting as we enter into more detailed analysis.

We will be holding public hearings once the Draft EIS is completed and published for public review.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Rail Alignment Screening Process & Options

Scroll down to see both boards:


The Rail Alignment Screening Options


The Rail Alignment Screening Process

In order to add capacity to the project corridor, additional main-line track needs to be built. There is not a “one-size fits all” solution. To help determine where the new track could go, we developed an alternatives development and screening process. The process established a range of rail alignment options for consideration and then systematically screened the options down to reasonable alternatives for detailed analysis in the EIS. After initial analysis of the Tier I EIS and previous documents, coupled with public input, DRPT developed the following preliminary rail alignments:

Unconstrained Alignment Options

The unconstrained rail alignment option identifies what the rail alignment would look like if the primary criteria were to design track capable of a maximum allowable speed for passenger trains of 90 mph along the entire corridor, without being constrained by the limits of the existing right-of-way (ROW). While optimizing track design speed, this option would also generally have greater impacts to environmental resources and other infrastructure.

Constrained Rail Alignment Options

The constrained rail alignment option is a three-track design where the design goal is to maximize passenger train speed up to 90 mph wherever feasible, with the only design constraint being that the tracks would stay within the limits of the existing ROW.

West/East Track Alignment Options

This alignment option would not move the existing two tracks, but adds a third track the length of the corridor on either the west or east side.

Minor Improvements Options

This option would only use the existing tracks, meaning no additional capacity is added, but some minor improvements such as upgraded or new platforms and upgraded track in small, specific segments would be made.

How the Process Worked

  1. Rail alignments were screened for potential impacts to key environmental resources, existing infrastructure, and existing and potential stations.
  2. Alignment modifications were then made to avoid or minimize adverse effects on environmental resources and existing infrastructure while meeting the Project’s Purpose and Need. The process also considered each rail alignment’s potential ability to reduce trip times based on track design speed and rail operations.
  3. DRPT then identified reasonable rail alignments and station improvements. These options were then combined as Build Alternatives for further evaluation in the EIS.
DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Screening Summary

Scroll down to see both boards:


Stage 1 & 2 Screening Summary


Stage 3 & 4 Screening Summary


Here is a summary of screening that has taken place:

Stage I Screening - Initial Screening

Stage I screening focused on key environmental resources such as parks, military bases, wildlife refuges, and historic places and other cultural resources. Alignment options were evaluated for direct impacts to key resources; those options with fewer impacts were carried forward.

Stage II Screening - Impact Order of Magnitude Screening

Stage II screening focused on the degree of the impact on wetlands, cemeteries, agricultural districts, and other resources. Alignments were evaluated using an overlay of the alignment on available GIS and existing conditions mapping. Alignment options were compared based on their order of magnitude impacts; those options were carried forward.

Stage III Screening - Infrastructure Constraints

Stage III screening focused on effects of existing infrastructure limitations. Alignment options were evaluated with respect to existing road crossings and rail bridges; reasonable alignment options were carried forward.

Stage IV Screening - Area Options

Stage IV screening evaluated bypasses in Ashland and Fredericksburg. In Richmond, station location options defined the rail alignment options.

The Build Alternatives Include:

  • Corridor-wide upgrades to existing track and signal systems to achieve higher operating speeds, including curve realignments, higher speed crossovers between tracks, passing sidings, and grade crossing improvements.
  • Corridor-wide improvements to add capacity to increase passenger train service frequency and reliability, including an additional main track along most of the corridor, and additional sidings, crossovers, yard bypasses and leads, and other improvements at certain locations.
  • Amtrak station improvements and accommodations for extended platforms for VRE
DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Northern Virginia Screening Results

Click on board to expand:


With all alignments, there are environmental constraints and challenges to achieve potential improvements.

The Build Alternatives being presented for additional review are:

  • Add a third track generally on the east side of existing track.
  • Add a double-track bypass east of Fredericksburg as an alternative to adding a third track through Fredericksburg.

View detailed mapping of the alternatives.*

*Map files are large and may take additional time to load.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Central Virginia Screening Results

Click on board to expand:


With all alignments, there are environmental constraints and challenges to achieve potential improvements.

The Build Alternatives being presented for additional review are:

  • Add a third track alongside the existing track.
  • Add a double-track bypass to the west of Ashland as an alternative to adding a third track through Ashland.

View detailed mapping of the alternatives.*

*Map files are large and may take additional time to load.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Richmond Section Screening Results

Click on board to expand:



Richmond section screening was unique because of the complex network of railroads in this densely-developed area, which include multiple alignments that could carry additional passenger or freight service. Richmond rail alignments will be based on which station locations are served and the associated passenger and freight service operational requirements.

The Build Alternatives being presented for additional review are listed below. Click on the name of the alternative to view concept maps for each station option and associated alignment options.


View detailed mapping of the alternatives.*

*Map files are large and may take additional time to load.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Alternatives Carried Forward

Scroll down to see both boards:


Alternatives Carried Forward


Potential Improvements


The screening process resulted in a range of reasonable alignment alternatives to be carried forward into the EIS for further investigation. In addition to these Build Alternatives, DRPT is also considering the No-Build Alternative. The No-Build Alternative is always included as the benchmark against which Build Alternatives are evaluated and incorporates already planned and funded or approved improvements and service levels.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Next Steps

Click on board to expand:


DRPT’s refinement of alternatives will include consideration of means and methods to minimize impacts. The Draft EIS will compare these potential impacts, as well as the potential benefits, of each alternative to help DRPT, FRA, and the public understand each potential solution. Following the formal publication and distribution of the Draft EIS, DRPT will hold public hearings in late 2016 for the public to provide input. Information gathered during this time will help determine the Preferred Alternative, environmental commitments, and mitigation recommendations that are included in the Final EIS.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo

Get Involved

Click on board to expand:


We want to hear what is important to you.

Please provide your input on the alternatives that DRPT will evaluate further as part of the Draft EIS. Your comments on the preliminary alternatives and screening process will be accepted through January 8, 2015. As always, your comments will always be reviewed and included as part of the public record.

Are you interested in joining us at an in-person public meeting? Three meetings are being held in the project corridor. Go to www.DC2RVArail.com for meeting dates, times, and locations.

DRPT logo FRA logo  HSIPR logo
Menu
Comment
Submit a Comment