DC2RVA Team Attends Local Public MeetingsJanuary 11, 2017
In addition to an extensive planned public and agency outreach process, the DC2RVA team has attended various public meetings hosted by communities along the corridor to present facts, review details in specific areas of the corridor and listen to public input. At meetings held earlier this year in Fredericksburg and Ashland, project manager Emily Stock answered questions, provided an update on the project, and reviewed the project schedule.
Several questions were asked about the potential bypass options, freight train movement, and environmental impacts of the project. The following is a small sample of questions and responses from DRPT. More detailed responses can be found on the project website.
Q. What is the expected annual increase in freight rail?
A. Typically we would expect the natural freight growth to be about 2.5% a year. We understand from project modeling and VRE and Amtrak operations, that the corridor is at capacity, and adding a third track would add more capacity and allow for better reliability and frequency. The Fredericksburg bypass option is one of the options being considered to meet the needed capacity. It would primarily serve as a freight bypass, or possibly also for long distance trains, for greater capacity.
Q. Does the bypass option mean no trains would go through the current Fredericksburg station?
A. It would allow for more passenger trains to go through the Fredericksburg station. If you route the freight trains to a bypass, it allows for more capacity for the freight trains on this alternate route, and more capacity for passenger trains through the current Fredericksburg station.
Q. Can you provide the criteria for the bypass?
A. All project alternatives are evaluated against the Project’s Purpose and Need, which establishes a set of project performance goals and criteria. The Purpose and Need is available on the Project website. We consider a range of criteria, including potential property impacts and potential impacts to cultural and natural resources, as well as the potential for benefits to transportation. These criteria are used to evaluate each alternative, which will be documented in the Draft EIS.
Q. Is cost a factor in decision making?
A. Cost is a factor in DRPT’s decision making, but it is not the only factor – we also must consider transportation benefits, potential impacts to human and natural resources, compliance with other laws and regulations, etc., which will be documented in the Draft EIS. There will be a comparative matrix in the document which will summarize potential impacts and benefits in areas throughout the corridor. DRPT will recommend a Preferred Alternative based on the identified benefits and costs, and DRPT’s recommended Alternative will be available for public review and comment in the Draft EIS.
Q. Is there a public vote on this? When will the study be over?
A. The FRA will make the final decision. DRPT’s Preferred Alternative and Draft EIS, along with associated public comments, will factor into the FRA’s decision. The project is planned for completion by the end of 2017. We are striving to keep this three-year time schedule, so that any uncertainty can be resolved as quickly as possible.