The Long Bridge Project, a key component of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority’s (VPRA’s) Transforming Rail in Virginia Program, has reached a critical milestone with the advancement into the Project Development phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program, under Core Capacity. This important step grants VPRA pre-award authority for reimbursable Project Development activities.

Core capacity projects are corridor-based capital investments that increase capacity in corridors that are at capacity today or will be in 5 years. Passenger and freight rail operators within the Long Bridge Project corridor include Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express (VRE) and CSX Transportation (CSXT). Annually, up to 1.3 million Amtrak passengers and 4.5 million VRE commuters travel on the current Long Bridge. Under normal circumstances, the bridge functions at 98 percent capacity during peak periods, preventing the District, Virginia, and Maryland from increasing passenger and commuter rail service for their communities.

During the Project Development Stage, VPRA will develop a list of alternatives, determine a locally preferred alternative, complete the environmental review process, and complete the activities required to develop sufficient information for evaluation and rating under the Section 5309 criteria. The expanded Long Bridge will enable Virginia to double its state-supported Amtrak passenger rail service, significantly increase VRE commuter rail service by 2030, and make way for potential future run-through commuter rail service connecting Virginia and Maryland.