Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) Executive Director Jennifer DeBruhl will retire at the end of June, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.
The news, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, comes as Virginia is “poised to award construction contracts for the centerpiece of its $3.7 billion plan to transform passenger rail travel.”
According to the report, DeBruhl has led DRPT for nearly two years after serving as the agency’s Chief of Public Transportation for almost six years and working nearly 19 years in two separate stints at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). In her 30-year career, she also worked for almost five years in community planning at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
“I know this team is strong, capable and focused on the future, which makes this the right time for me to step away and pursue other priorities,” DeBruhl said in a message to the agency’s rail and transit partners on Nov. 27.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch report, DeBruhl is also a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which makes transportation funding decisions for the state, and chairs the Board of Directors of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA), created nearly four years ago to expand opportunities for passenger rail travel across the state.
VPRA’s Board of Directors is expected to approve contracts on Dec. 6 to “build a new rail bridge across the Potomac River and rail bypass in Fairfax County that will double rail capacity to cross the river between Virginia and Washington, D.C.,” according to the report.
The $1.9 billion project, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, “will allow separation of passenger and freight train traffic, expanding passenger rail service to and from Richmond as well as other parts of the state.”
The project includes the construction of a new rail bridge across the Potomac next to the 119-year-old Long Bridge, which currently limits traffic to two tracks, and a new pedestrian bridge across the river.
According to the report, “construction of a new rail crossing of the Potomac is the “centerpiece of a deal that then-Gov. Ralph Northam signed more than two years ago with CSX, the transportation company that owns Long Bridge, and Amtrak.” The deal also will allow the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) to expand commuter rail service in Northern Virginia and as far south as Spotsylvania County.
“Virginia committed to purchasing 350 miles of railroad right of way and 225 miles of track from CSX to boost passenger rail service along the traffic-clogged Interstate 95 corridor between Richmond and Washington, eventually allowing trains to run almost hourly between the Amtrak station on Staples Mill Road in Henrico County and Union Station in the nation’s capital. The expansion will also allow more passenger trains to run to and from Main Street Station in Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch report.
According to the report, DeBruh’s retirement “will not affect those plans,” but Del. Delores McQuinn (D-Richmond), who led the House Transportation Committee when Democrats last controlled the House of Delegates from 2020 to 2022, said there’s going to be “a void when she leaves,” adding that DeBruhl “came with a wealth of knowledge” from her long career in transportation planning and management.