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Virginia to receive $45 million in federal money for high-speed rail
By KELLY HANNON
Virginia will be able to advance planning for high-speed rail between Richmond and Washington using a $45 million federal grant, allowing it catch up to work already done on high-speed rail in North Carolina.
Virginia will receive $44.3 million to fund required engineering and environmental studies of the railroad tracks, all with the goal of eventually running high-speed trains along the entire Southeast Corridor.
Another $1.2 million will be put toward preliminary engineering for a new Appomattox River railroad bridge, which will eliminate a single-track bottleneck.
With the money, Virginia can start planning for high-speed rail at a Tier II level between Richmond and Washington, said Courtney Ware, manager of policy and communication for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.
The planning is currently at the Tier I stage, she said.
But the Richmond-to-Raleigh, N.C., segment of the Southeast Corridor is already at a Tier II stage.
This will bring both sections to the same point in the process, so the Federal Railroad Administration can see that a long corridor will be ready for the next stage, which is engineering, design and construction, Ware said.
A Tier II study can take eight years to complete, Ware said.
Virginia is among 23 states to receive a federal grant to build or plan for high-speed rail service.
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced yesterday it is distributing $2.4 billion for 54 high-speed rail construction and planning projects.
This is the second big federal grant Virginia has received for high-speed rail this year.
In January, Virginia learned it would receive $75 million in federal stimulus funds to build a third railroad track over 11.4 miles between Powell's Creek in Prince William and Arkendale in Stafford, a key capacity issue for operating high-speed trains from Richmond to Washington. It also will help passengers on Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express avoid rail gridlock.
In this funding round, California received the largest grant, $901 million, followed by Florida, which received $808 million.
Kelly Hannon: 540/374-5436