NEWS RELEASE – September 29, 2023
Bypass to alleviate rail congestion in Northern Virginia
RICHMOND — The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) today announced it has been awarded a $100 million grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in support of its Franconia-Springfield Bypass Project. As part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants program, the $100 million grant will advance final design and construction of the Bypass Project.
The Franconia-Springfield Bypass will alleviate train interference at one of the most congested points in Virginia – between Fredericksburg and Washington, DC. Through the $405 million project, VPRA and partners will construct an approximately 0.9-mile-long, dedicated passenger rail bridge located just south of the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.
The bridge, which will cross over two existing freight tracks, will be owned by VPRA and will allow passenger trains to cross over the existing freight tracks to reach station stops on the opposite side. The project will provide a connection for passenger trains between the west side of the corridor north of the bridge and the east side of the corridor south of the bridge, providing improved service for both passenger and freight trains through the area. The bypass will further VPRA’s mission to create two separate rail corridors through the area, one for passenger trains and one for freight trains and will serve both Amtrak as well as Virginia Railway Express (VRE) trains. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 and last two years.
“This grant is a big win for Virginia. The Bypass will improve fluidity for our freight railroads and enable more passenger service in one of the most heavily trafficked areas of the Commonwealth,” stated Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller. “I am pleased the FRA recognizes this corridor’s tremendous importance to interstate commerce and travel not only within Virginia, but along the entire East Coast.”
“Connecting communities within Virginia with safe and affordable transportation options is what we do,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and Board Chair of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority Board. “This FRA CRISI grant will aid VPRA in completing an important piece of their Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative, the Franconia-Springfield Bypass – an infrastructure improvement that will benefit not only Virginians but all who travel by rail through the Commonwealth.”
“The Franconia-Springfield Bypass Project represents the future of rail in Northern Virginia. Creating this dedicated passenger rail corridor is a crucial step toward alleviating congestion and offering commuters more choices,” said Monica Backmon, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA). “While NVTA’s nearly $36 million investment in the bypass and platform improvements has been instrumental, the federal funding secured through FRA’s CRISI grant is the driving force behind making this vision a reality.”
“The Franconia-Springfield Bypass is a vital part of VPRA’s plan to improve and increase passenger rail service in Northern Virginia by creating a rail corridor dedicated to passenger rail. We could not do this without the support of our Virginia Congressional Delegation, and we thank them for their dedication to passenger rail in the Commonwealth,” said DJ Stadtler, Executive Director of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority. “Virginians are increasingly seeking an alternative to the state’s crippling traffic, and with the aid of this CRISI grant from the FRA, we will be able to complete the bypass and offer passenger rail service that is more consistent, more reliable, and more predictable.”
VPRA’s Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative launched in 2021 with a goal to expand the availability of passenger rail throughout the Commonwealth. Once the first phase of projects — including the Franconia-Springfield Bypass Project — are complete, additional Amtrak Virginia and VRE frequencies will be available with more weekend and new, late-night options.
Amtrak Virginia, the state-supported passenger rail service, continues to set ridership records. In August, 130,998 passengers traveled on the state’s four corridors, exceeding the previous record set in July when 125,488 passengers traveled. Currently, Amtrak Virginia service offers three daily roundtrips between Norfolk and Washington, DC, two daily roundtrips between both Roanoke and Washington, and Newport News and Washington, and one daily roundtrip between Richmond and the nation’s capital.
About Virginia Passenger Rail Authority
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority was established in 2020 to promote, sustain, and expand the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth. VPRA is committed to delivering and expanding its state-supported Amtrak Virginia passenger rail service. The Commonwealth of Virginia first launched state-supported service in 2009 with one roundtrip between Washington, DC and Lynchburg, VA. Since that time, the Commonwealth’s service has grown to include eight roundtrips daily with stops at 17 stations along four corridors. For more information, please visit vapassengerrailauthority.org.