ROANOKE, Va. – Virginia will spend $3.7 billion to revamp the commonwealth’s railway system.
Acquiring 386 miles of rail and 223 miles of track, a major project is picking up steam.
Partnering with Amtrak, CSX, and Virginia Railway Express, the goal is to expand rail services across the state
It will make it easier for passengers traveling to and from the New River Valley, especially college students.
One billion dollars will be set aside for several infrastructure projects in the span of a decade.
One of those projects is taking an existing freight corridor between Doswell and Clifton Forge and turning it into a passenger service.
The 10-year plan also includes increasing VRE service for commuters by 60 percent, along with weekend service, doubling Amtrak trains to lead to hourly service and create a high-speed rail corridor from Petersburg to North Carolina.
A passenger-only bridge will also be built over the Potomac River at a price tag of $1.9 billion.
Saving the planet, Governor Ralph Northam points out rail travel produces 83 percent fewer greenhouse gases than driving.
“All of those cars on the road come with a price,” he said.
Northam said in one year, traffic delays can accumulate to 230 million hours and congestion costs of $6.5 billion.
He said investing in a railway is cheaper and faster compared to constructing more highway lanes.
After reviewing a study on I-95, Northam said it would take 10 years and $12.5 billion to create a 50-mile lane in each direction.
“And by the time it was done the corridor would be just as congested as when we started.”
With Amtrak adding 12 more routes, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said more than 1,200 furloughed employees will be able to return to work.
“Far too many workers have been worrying not only about their safety but about the safety of their job, about their next paycheck,” Buttigieg said.
The major project is expected to boost the state’s economy by $2 billion a year and could create tens of thousands of jobs.