Monday, February 22, 2010

VRE’s 11-mile extension takes big step forward

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The Virginia Railway Express Operations Board has authorized a $2.7 millioncontract with STV/Ralph Whitehead Associates to make an environmental study andprovide preliminary engineering services on the proposed extension of VRE 11miles on Norfolk Southern's B line into the Gainesville-Haymarket area in westernPrince William County. The action came at a vote taken last Friday.

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"I think this will be one of the most significant stations in VRE's historyone of these days, and we'll put more people on at this location than at anyother station," VRE board member and Prince William Supervisor W.S.Covington III told a Washington Post reporter.

The environmental and engineering study is funded by the Virginia Department ofRail and Public Transportation with the help of an $875,000 in-kind match fromNorfolk Southern.

The Gainesville-Haymarket project, now estimated to cost up to $244 million,would add a track to the B line within existing right of way and up to threestations.

VRE officials said they are using a phased approach so the board and the countycan reevaluate the proposed extension once a more concrete cost estimate isavailable. Prince William's subsidy to VRE could increase with the proposedextension, assuming there would be an influx in riders.