Discussing current issues in engineering
Next Milestone Complete for a Major Addition to the Only Railway Bridge Connecting Virginia to Washington D.C.
Virginia and DC transportation officials recently announced that environmental impact assessments have been completed for a proposed railway crossing over the Potomac River. The new metro bridge would ease current traffic congestion and ultimately provide hourly passenger rail service between Richmond and Washington DC.
The bridge plan includes two passenger railroad tracks and a pedestrian bridge built alongside the current 116-year-old Long Bridge Potomac crossing, which has been operating at 98% capacity for decades and is currently the only railroad bridge connecting Virginia to DC.
The new bridge construction would allow for passenger rail service to operate on its own tracks rather than sharing the existing track with freight trains. This means passenger trains could leave and arrive hourly throughout the day between Richmond and DC in addition to easing the current traffic bottleneck for commuter rail operations in Northern Virginia.
Amtrak has pledged $944 million to the project and the VRE Commuter Rail Operating and Capital Fund is allowing the use of tolls from Interstate 66 to help fund the project. Virginia’s contribution is relying on an amendment to the two-year budget that would allow the transportation trust fund to keep road and transit construction projects moving forward.
Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine highlighted the fact that this new bridge construction would be opening up rail capacity for the entire Mid-Atlantic by connecting the Northeast and Southeast rail corridors of the U.S. which would allow for exponential growth in freight and commuter rail service throughout Virginia. Valentine further explained that this would expand capacity for the Port of Virginia and connect workers to important employment centers, which would contribute to the economic recovery of COVID-19 and overall growth of the Commonwealth.
With the completion of the environmental impact study, Virginia can begin preliminary engineering for the project with the possibility of Virginia Railway Express trains starting service to and from Baltimore beginning as soon as 2025. You can learn more at the official Long Bridge project website.
Colman Engineering, PLC
A professional engineering firm located in Harrisonburg, VA