Richmond-Raleigh rail-line plan clears Environmental Impact Statement hurdle

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), North Carolina and Virginia have signed off on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for a proposed passenger rail line from Richmond, Virginia, to Raleigh, North Carolina.

The finalized FEIS is one of the final steps necessary before construction work on the project can move forward once funding is secured. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the new rail line is a vital project for the region’s economy.

“Without a strong passenger rail system, the Southeast’s growth will be choked by congestion for a very long time,” Foxx said. “North Carolina, Virginia and the Department of Transportation have worked together to bring us closer to high-speed rail, connecting Richmond and Raleigh, and I urge everyone involved to continue pushing this effort forward. High-speed rail in this region is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

The route between the two cities would encompass 162 miles and would utilize both existing and former rail lines for about 60 percent of the line. The Richmond-Raleigh route is part of a larger multi-state planning effort with DOT to provide more efficient high-speed passenger service between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

Foxx said in July that the Department of Transportation would invest approximately $1 million to develop a regional long-term vision for the corridor and engage states and stakeholders to help the region form a governance organization that can sustain planning efforts and implement the rail lines.

“Today brings us closer to breaking ground on this critical project for one of the fastest-growing areas of the country,” FRA acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said. “The project will improve safety and reliability, reduce the travel time between Richmond and Raleigh, and increase opportunity for jobs and growth in the Southeast.”

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