(Virginia Passenger Rail Authority map)
A project to enhance the capacity of a key rail line through Fairfax County, Va., southwest of Washington, D.C., is chugging along, due to a major infusion of federal cash.
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) has been awarded $100 million in federal funds for another transportation project designed to improve travel in the D.C. metropolitan area.
While drivers traveling from Fredericksburg into the district are enjoying reduced commute times due to the installation of the long-awaited express lanes along the Interstate 95 corridor, construction will begin soon on the Franconia-Springfield Bypass, The Center Square noted.
This rail bridge will allow Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express trains to "seamlessly cross over two freight rail tracks, preventing delays and expanding capacity for additional service," to reach the Franconia-Springfield station at 6880 Frontier Dr., according to a press release from U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine's office.
FFXnow, a digital local news source for Fairfax County, reported that Kaine announced the funding Sept. 21, along with fellow Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
The new bridge will relieve congestion and open up the possibility of additional passenger and freight service on the railway, which is one of Virginia's busiest, according to the lawmakers.
"Passenger rail is a vital connector for so many Virginians — carrying people to their work, their families, and their travel plans," Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. "We're thrilled to see this funding make rail safer and more efficient for Virginians by addressing a critical chokepoint in a vital location, alleviating congestion for hundreds of Virginians every single day."
Rail Project Needed to Help Alleviate Area's Congestion
Under development since 2021, the Franconia-Springfield Bypass will consist of a roughly 1-mi.-long bridge that will carry passenger trains over two existing tracks for CSX freight trains just south of the rail station, VPRA officials explained at a neighborhood meeting in July.
The bridge will have just one track, but it will be built to accommodate a future second track.
The project is part of a larger push by Virginia transportation officials to improve the state's rail service between Fredericksburg and Washington. Other projects include an extension of a third track that currently starts in Alexandria and runs for about 6 mi. from Franconia to Lorton.
"Expanding passenger rail as an alternative to interstate travel is critical as traffic congestion in northern Virginia continues to grow at an unsustainable rate," noted VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler. "Building the Franconia-Springfield Bypass will allow us to expand our state-supported rail service by alleviating train interference at the most congested point in Virginia. The bypass is key to providing Virginians with reliable, consistent, and convenient passenger rail service."
According to the state rail agency, engineering on the bypass is scheduled to begin sometime this year, with construction potentially kicking off in 2024 and continuing until completion, likely in 2026. VPRA has budgeted $405 million overall for the project, a spokesperson told FFXnow.
Warner's office explained that the new rail project's federal funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in November 2021 and a fiscal year 2022 spending package.
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