CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – Next stop: Christiansburg.
The Virginia General Assembly is all aboard a plan to build a new Amtrak station in the New River Valley.
On Monday, a bill to establish the NRV Passenger Rail Authority passed.
Now, it heads to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk.
The project has been years in the making and members of the local New River Valley Passenger Rail Initiative hope to locate the station on a parcel of land near the Christiansburg Aquatic Center.
“We’re just really, really pleased that this community can come together like that,” said Larry Hincker, who’s been leading the initiative locally.
Del. Chris Hurst said it’s an opportunity to attract mid-to-large-sized companies.
“We are ready to bring in more people to this area but they have to get here somehow. And I think an Amtrak train would be a great way for them to do that,” said Hurst.
Sharon Scott, the executive director of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, said the rail service would also boost tourism for small businesses and benefit students and faculty at Radford University and Virginia Tech.
“We know that higher education certainly brings higher-paying jobs. We’re also seeing the growth of other manufacturers in our community. And this will be great news for them. So it’s just a win-win all the way around,” said Scott.
This project is just a small part of a statewide push to expand passenger rail service in Virginia.
State transportation leaders are in negotiations with Norfolk Southern now, hoping to get $100 million to make a deal.
“The biggest hurdle yet is the state doing a deal with Norfolk Southern. That is the biggest hurdle,” said Hincker.
Expanding rail service across Virginia could cost up to $200 million so the state might have to find some other funding to make the deal with Norfolk Southern.