Joining Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that the Commonwealth has finalized agreements with Amtrak, CSX, and Virginia Railway Express to invest in and expand rail travel between the Northeast and Southeast corridors.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to build a 21st-century rail system in Virginia and along the entire East Coast,” said Governor Northam. “This historic initiative will help get people and goods where they need to go more efficiently, reduce congestion and pollution, and create a more inclusive economy. Together with our partners at Amtrak, CSX, and VRE, we are making critical investments that will fundamentally transform our transportation infrastructure, delivering long-term economic benefits for our workers and communities as we rebound from the pandemic and into the future.”
Funded by the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 billion investment into the Long Bridge over the Potomac River, as well as the acquisition of 386 miles of railroad right-of-way and 223 miles of track from CSX, and the $1 billion in additional infrastructure improvements approved by Virginia would allow that state to expand Amtrak and VRE services and create a pathway for the separation of freight and passenger rail in Virginia while preserving future rail corridors.
“As President Biden has said—help is here. The American Rescue Plan is providing more than $43.2 billion to support our nation’s transportation needs and our workers during the pandemic,” Buttigieg said. “The plan is helping Amtrak bring back more than 1,200 furloughed employees and restore service to 12 routes. And more broadly, this funding will help transportation providers across the nation avoid layoffs and help support workers who have been on the front lines delivering vaccines, getting people to essential jobs, and getting essential goods to wherever they need to go.”
The American Rescue Plan, passed in March, includes $1.7 billion for Amtrak to recall furloughed employees, restore daily long-distance services and help states cover revenue lost on state-supported routes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Plan also includes funding for transit and rail networks and to keep people connected to their jobs, healthcare, and essential needs during the pandemic.
“As we see the light at the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 crisis, we’ll soon see Virginians heading back to work,” said Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA). “In order to reduce congestion and travel times for commuters, we need long-term investments in our rail system. That’s why I was proud to have successfully pushed for the December COVID-19 relief package to allow for the construction of a new Long Bridge on the Potomac River, which will double the capacity of the rail crossing right here in the Commonwealth and with our neighbors in Washington, D.C. Thinking big on our rail projects will not only propel us into the 21st century, but it would help ensure that the Commonwealth remains one of the best places to live and work in the country.”