Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FRA funds third track for northern Virginia

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The Federal Railroad Administration Monday announced its intent to release $74.8 million for 11 miles of a third track for use by Virginia Rail Express (VRE), CSX, and Amtrak in northern Virginia.

The third track will be added in Stafford County and Prince William County in Virginia along CSX right-of-way. The project also is a steppingstone toward the proposed Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, envisioned by the Obama Administration, that would link Charlotte, and Raleigh, both in North Carolina, with Petersburg and Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C. Federal stimulus funds are being used for the track addition.

For now, track speeds will remain fixed at 79 mph, but the added capacity is expected to expedite traffic, particularly for Amtrak. "We won't get into each other's way," VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said to local media.

Disputes among the three railroads had threatened to jeopardize the project, which involves CSX right-of-way. A Sept. 30 deadline, if unmet, could have resulted in forfeiture of the funds.

The project is being touted by one real estate developer of a master-planned community in Prince William County.