High-speed rail to get public say

October 12, 2014

By Regina Weiss / The Free Lance-Star

Fredericksburg-area residents will have the chance to comment next month on long-range federal and state plans for higher-speed passenger rail service.

Spanning a 115-mile corridor from Washington, D.C., to Richmond, the project is now in the second phase of a two-tiered process of federal review.

The first phase of the study set a general corridor for improved train service while the second phase will determine an exact route and station locations as part of the Tier II Environmental Impact Statement process.

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration announced the start of the engineering and environmental review project on Monday.

The 115-mile corridor is one segment of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, which runs from Washington to Charlotte, N.C.

The project is part of a nationwide initiative by the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve service and connections to higher-speed rail service. Tom Hickey, chief development officer with VRE, said the project will be a benefit to the commuter service.

Not only will improving rail speeds help VRE, but the project will advance the installation of a third train track, which will help capacity problems. “It’s a very congested quarter,” he said, which is shared by VRE, freight trains and Amtrak.

With more tracks, more trains can travel without causing back ups for others.

Four public meetings will be held throughout the corridor in November, offering residents a chance to learn more details and provide feedback.

The Fredericksburg-area meeting will be held Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. at the National Museum of the Marine Corps off U.S. 1 near Quantico.

Other meeting dates, study details and an online survey can be found at DC2RVArail.com.

Regina Weiss 540/374-5444

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