How much faster will high-speed rail be?

November 30, 2014

Source: Scott Shenk | Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

What kind of impact could we expect from the proposed 123-mile “high-speed” rail line that would run through the Fredericksburg region?

The project—only in the study phase and nowhere near happening anytime soon—would add a third track and allow trains to reach speeds of 90 mph.

According to Amtrak, their trains run at a high of 150 mph, with more than half running at 100 mph or faster.

According to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Amtrak trains are restricted to 70 mph between Richmond and Washington, D.C., the corridor through which the high-speed trains would run. Restrictions in some spots cut those speeds to 45–55 mph.

The high-speed rail project loses some of its luster when compared to those Amtrak speeds.

Dear Scott: Could you please answer the following question?

When coming north on U.S. 1 and turning right onto Butler Road there is a “No Turn on Red” sign.

Why?

It was not there before the construction, and I do not understand why it is there now.

When the traffic going in that direction gets the green light, they are able to turn right without any problems.

Why not on red?

It is very frustrating to sit there while all three other directions get to go and all three other directions are allowed to turn on red.

—Morgan Jenkins, Stafford 

The Virginia Department of Transportation made the no-right-turn change in July 2012 after fire and rescue crews raised a question of safety.

The emergency responders said there were instances of cars turning right on red and blocking the way for safety vehicles to make it through, which also created the potential of head-on crashes.

The issue—of emergency vehicle delays and the no-right-turn-on-red—should go away when the new intersection is completed because there will be more lanes, allowing more room for emergency vehicles.

When the project is finished, in 2015, Butler Road will have four lanes on the westbound side (headed toward U.S. 17) and the eastbound side will have two lanes, which will revert back to one lane at Carter Street.

The intersection project is slated to be finished in September 2015.