High-speed rail study complete, next hearing on July 21

It all hinges on funding, when we get the money and how much, said Christine Fix, rail planning coordinator for Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). Fix was one of two speakers at the May 27 Chester Community Association (CCA) meeting. She spoke to about 50 area residents interested in the impact of high-speed rail on those adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks where the new trains will run.

Fix said DRPT was waiting on the results of a Tier II study, which is an environment impact statement (EIS) that had to be approved by the Federal Railroad Administration.

Last week, the FRA approved the Tier II study and DRPT will move to the next step, which is public hearings on the environment impact. The public hearing for Chesterfield will be held on July 21, 2010 at Union Station, 103 River Street in Petersburg.

Fix stated in an e-mail that following the public hearings, the next steps will be to recommend a preferred alignment in fall 2010 and conduct a final EIS on that preferred alignment by mid-2011, which will be followed by the Record of Decision by late 2011.  The Record of Decision is a federal document that confirms the adequacy of the planning and design work done by the states, and allows the states to apply for federal funds to complete the project.
During the CCA meeting, Fix said that depending on funding, high speed trains could be running through Chesterfield by 2018.

The entire document can be viewed at the project web site, sehsr.org, along with the detailed design maps that will be displayed at the public hearings.
During the CCA meeting, Fix also said her group is working on two routes: One would be a passenger train from Richmond to Hampton Roads through Chesterfield and down a track adjacent to Rt. 460, and the other from Richmond to Raleigh, N.C. The former could be up and running relatively sooner, because initially it will run on existing track; the latter will need a new rail designated for high-speed trains. That project will require the closure of some crossings and the construction of at least one overpass and one underpass in the Chester area.

For more information visit the sehsr.org site. 

For a schematic map of crossing upgrades and eliminations CLICK HERE

For aerial maps of the route CLICK HERE

For the entire environmental impact study report CLICK HERE.


The following is a press release from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) on the schedule of public hearings on the environment impact study done as part of the Tier II process:

North Carolina and Virginia to Hold Public Hearings for Southeast High Speed Rail Environmental Impact Statement analyzes high-speed passenger rail between Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC

RALEIGH - North Carolina, Virginia and the Federal Railroad Administration announce the completion of a draft environmental statement that is a key step toward implementing high-speed rail service in the two states and the Southeast. The Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement covers the portion of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) corridor between Richmond, VA, and Raleigh, NC.

The SEHSR project proposes to implement approximately 162 miles of high-speed rail as part of an overall plan to extend high-speed passenger rail service from the Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington, D.C.) southward through Virginia to Charlotte, NC. The Richmond to Raleigh portion includes nearly 100 new bridges/overpasses that, when combined with existing bridges/overpasses, will create a fully grade-separated system to ensure the safety of passengers and train crews, motorists and the surrounding community.

"New high-speed rail service on the East Coast will provide people with more attractive travel choices and help manage traffic congestion on highways," said Thelma Drake, agency director of DRPT.

Patrick Simmons, director of rail for NCDOT, stated, "This document represents eight years of engineering and environmental work along with public involvement, and is a major milestone toward implementing high speed rail in North Carolina and Virginia. This portion of the corridor provides improved north/south service, and it will also facilitate important east/west connectivity."

 "This is a significant step in completing the high-speed rail line from North Carolina to Washington, D.C." said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. "We are very pleased with the multi-state cooperation and agreements with the freight railroads, which will serve as a model for other states in pushing high-speed rail beyond their borders."

 A series of eight public hearings has been scheduled throughout the corridor during the month of July. These hearings will provide the public an opportunity to review and comment on the proposed designs and the associated environmental impacts. Based on input from the public and regulatory agencies, a recommendation report (recommending a preferred alternative) will be prepared, followed by a Final Environmental Impact Statement and final designs.

 Southeast High Speed Rail service would provide business and leisure travelers with an alternate transportation option for trips between 100-500 miles. The planned service would have top speeds of 110 miles per hour with targeted average speeds of 85-87 mph.

 North Carolina was recently awarded $520 million in federal recovery funds for improvements that will enable higher track speeds and increased frequencies along the corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte and $25 million for projects to improve reliability of existing service from Raleigh north to Virginia. Virginia was also awarded $75 million in federal recovery funds for improvements to the Richmond to Washington, D.C., part of the corridor.

Dates and locations for the public hearings are listed below. An open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. followed by a formal public hearing at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time:

 Hearing for Warren County, NC

July 13, 2010

Northside Elementary School

164 Elementary Avenue, Norlina


Hearing for Brunswick

and Mecklenburg Counties, VA

July 15, 2010

Southside VA Community College

Christiana Campus

109 Campus Drive, Alberta


Hearing for Richmond, VA

July 20, 2010

Virginia DMV Cafeteria, 1st floor

2300 W. Broad Street, Richmond


Hearing for Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, and Petersburg, VA July 21, 2010 Union Station

103 River Street, Petersburg


Hearing for Dinwiddie County, VA

July 22, 2010

Sunnyside Elementary School

10203 Sunnyside Road., McKenney


Hearing for Wake County, NC

July 26, 2010

Raleigh Convention Center

500 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh


Hearing for Vance County, NC

July 27, 2010

Aycock Elementary School

305 Carey Chapel Road., Henderson


Hearing for Franklin County, NC

July 29, 2010

Franklinton High School Gym

6948 N. Cheatham Street, Franklinton


There are several options to provide comments on the document:

 * Sign up at a public hearing to publicly deliver verbal comments. Verbal comments are limited to three minutes per person and groups are requested to provide comments through one spokesperson whenever possible.

* Provide verbal comments privately at a public hearing.

* Provide written comments at a public hearing.

* Provide written comments at any time during the public comment period using the online comment form at www.sehsr.org

* Mail written comments at any time during the public comment period to:

SEHSR Comments, NCDOT Rail Division, 1553 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC

27699-1553 or SEHSR Comments, Public Information Office, DRPT, 600 E. Main St, Suite 2102, Richmond, VA 23219.


Comments must be received or postmarked by August 30, 2010. For more information, visit www.sehsr.org


High Speed Rail: Oh PLEASE!!!

As someone who has driven from Richmond to Raleigh for business numerous times I would love to see this happen. The 85 corridor is annoying to drive and is often populated by police officers who wait for you to go 5 miles per hour over the speed limit. A train connecting these two southern cities would help with industry dramatically.

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