Graphic shows planned new bridges and track to improve rail service from VA to D.C.
Provided by DRPT
The South County Federation, a coalition of area homeowners associations and individual residents, sponsored a virtual May 11 presentation on the status of area rail transportation projects, including those in Franconia/Springfield/Occoquan. Organized by member Peter Weyland, the information session included presentations from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), Virginia Railway Express (VRE), and Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
- VA to D.C. Long Bridge improvements: Additional tracks will provide a pathway for separation of freight and passenger rail in Virginia, and new rail bridges will eliminate the current rail traffic bottleneck at the single point of rail entry to the District of Columbia. Katherine Youngbluth, Manager, Northern Virginia Rail Projects, DRPT, presented the “Long Bridge Project” (LBP), a plan to build multiple new bridges for trains to move passengers and freight from Virginia into the District. Three two-track bridges will allow travel over George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Potomac River, and I-395. Additionally, three four-track bridges will be constructed over Ohio Drive SW, the Washington Channel, and Maine Avenue SW. A seventh bridge relocates the Maine Avenue pedestrian bridge.
On March 30, Governor Northam and U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, announced a definitive agreement to fund the $3.7 billion project in agreements with Amtrak, CSX, and VRE, for expansion of infrastructure and use of the existing CSX right-of-ways. The agreements support building a $1.9 billion dollar bridge over the Potomac River dedicated to passenger rail and improvements to L’Enfant Station. The monumentally complex project, on the scale of the Springfield Mixing Bowl, has a projected completion in 2030.
- Franconia/Springfield to Lorton rail improvements: DRPT and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) also identified passenger rail service improvement options along a 123-mile corridor for the Southeast High Speed Rail (DC2RVA) project, running from Washington to Richmond. Several impact the Franconia/Springfield/Lorton area.
Phase one, with completion in 2025, will add a third track between Franconia/Springfield and Lorton VRE Stations and replace the Newington Bridge over Newington Road and Route 1 (near Fair Winds Brewery), with construction beginning in 2023, at a cost of $208 million dollars. The second phase adds a third track between Woodbridge and Rippon.
The Franconia Bypass project, starting just south of Franconia/Springfield Station, allows passenger trains to cross over to serve VRE stations. This $298 million dollar segment will begin construction in 2023 with planned completion in 2026.
Improvements to the Franconia/Springfield VRE station, outlined by VRE Chief Engineer, Dallas Richards, will extend the east and west platform with construction beginning on June 2; for completion Sept. 2, 2023. The changes will allow the network to add five trains on the line.
VDOT manager Gary Runco updated the status of work on the Old Colchester Road Bridge, which was closed on March 19 due to safety concerns. An 80 by 24-foot temporary bridge over Pohick Creek will be put in place to allow the road reopening. Foundation work for a temporary bridge due to begin was placed on a short postponement due to the recent gas shortage and pipeline restart. The temporary bridge placement will be completed in two to three months. Delegate Kathy Tran and State Senator Scott Surovell are working to assure that the permanent project receives priority on the federal infrastructure list for the bridge, which is on the National Bridge inventory.
- Future improvements evaluated: Finally, DRPT’s Todd Horsley shared potential rail improvement options included in a feasibility study currently underway; the study report due to the Virginia General Assembly by Dec.1, 2021. The study will evaluate the pros and cons of a range of alternatives, without providing a final recommendation. Possibilities include: extension of the Metro Blue line from Springfield to Quantico, with a crossing to Ft. Belvoir and Potomac Mills; extension of the Metro Yellow line from Huntington to Quantico, though Ft. Belvoir; bus rapid transit from Ft. Belvoir to Quantico; VRE realignment and service enhancement; and an express bus alternative.