NEWS RELEASE – December 8, 2023
Grant will fund Long Bridge and Phase II Projects
RICHMOND – The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) today announced it has been awarded a $729 million grant by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) through its Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (FSP-National). The grant will aid VPRA in completing the final design and construction of Long Bridge and all Phase 2 projects of the Transforming Rail in Virginia (TRV) initiative.
“This grant is great news for Virginians,” said DJ Stadtler, Executive Director of VPRA. “The full funding of our Transforming Rail in Virginia Phase II projects, in particular, Long Bridge will result in a transformative increase in rail travel in the Commonwealth and along the East Coast. VPRA is grateful for the immense support we have received from our Virginia senators and Congressional delegation for this initiative. Their support has been immeasurable.”
“These rail projects will improve fluidity for freight and passengers not only in Virginia, but up and down the eastern seaboard. They will be a game-changer for our growing economy, world-class port, and top regional destinations,” said Secretary of Transportation Shep Miller. “I’d like to thank the VPRA team—especially Board Chair Jen DeBruhl and Executive Director DJ Stadtler—and our federal partners for helping us jumpstart these key projects.”
“This $729 million grant to advance rail projects in Virginia, including the critical construction of a new Long Bridge, is a huge win for not just Virginia, but the entire East Coast,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, Chair of the VPRA Board and Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. “This investment in an important rail corridor is fundamental to the Commonwealth’s economic future and will significantly improve commuter and passenger rail service as well as freight flow.”
The TRV initiative would not be possible without 1) the forward-thinking legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 that funded the vast majority of the initiative and created VPRA; 2) the series of real estate, funding, infrastructure, and passenger rail service agreements VPRA signed in 2021 with CSX, Amtrak, and VRE; and 3) the support of the Governor, the Secretary of Transportation, the General Assembly, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
In Northern Virginia, the initiative will separate passenger and freight rail operations from L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, DC to Spotsylvania County just south of Fredericksburg. Separating these two distinct services will improve on-time performance for both. Five projects will be completed using the funds:
- Long Bridge: Final design and construction of approximately 1.8 miles of improvements between Arlington, VA and Washington, DC including five rail bridges, one pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Potomac River and the replacement of a pedestrian bridge over Maine Avenue SW, as well as related railroad infrastructure;
- L’Enfant Fourth Track and Station Improvements: Final design and construction of approximately 1 mile of additional mainline track through and around the L’Enfant VRE Station and improvements to the existing station platform;
- Neabsco Creek to Woodbridge Third Track (Siding D): Final design and construction of 3.1 miles of third track in Prince William County, VA;
- Aquia Creek Third Track South (Siding E): Final design and construction of approximately 2.3 miles of third track in Stafford County, VA;
- Crossroads Third Track (Siding F): Final design and construction of approximately 4 miles of third track in Spotsylvania County, VA.
Completion of TRV’s Phase 2 projects will allow for three new roundtrip Amtrak Virginia state-supported trains in 2030. That will be in addition to the current eight roundtrips and the two that are scheduled to launch in 2026 for a total of 13 daily roundtrips by 2030 – with nearly hourly service between Richmond and Washington, D.C. It will also allow for an increase in the number of VRE frequencies with more weekend and late-night options as well as the first step to enabling future pass-through MARC service between Maryland and Alexandria, VA.
Amtrak Virginia, the state-supported passenger rail service, continues to set ridership records. In October, 125,689 passengers traveled — an increase of 20.1% over last October and the highest ridership ever in October since Amtrak Virginia service began in 2009. 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.