The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) has been awarded $100 million in federal funds for the Franconia-Springford Bypass. Overall, the agency has budgeted $405 million for the project, a spokesman Fairfax County news service FFXnow.
Construction could start next year and will likely continue through 2026.
This rail bridge will allow Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express trains to “seamlessly cross over two freight rail tracks, preventing delays and expanding capacity for additional service,” to reach the Franconia-Springfield station at 6880 Frontier Dr., U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine’s office says in a statement.
FFXnow reported that Kaine announced the funding Sept. 21 with fellow Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner.
The lawmakers say the new bridge will relieve congestion and open up the possibility of additional passenger and freight service on the railway, which is one of Virginia’s busiest.
“Passenger rail is a vital connector for so many Virginians — carrying people to their work, their families, and their travel plans,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “We’re thrilled to see this funding make rail safer and more efficient for Virginians by addressing a critical chokepoint in a vital location, alleviating congestion for hundreds of Virginians every single day.”
The bypass will include a roughly 1-mi.-long bridge that will carry passenger trains over two existing tracks for CSX freight trains just south of the rail station, VPRA officials explained at a neighborhood meeting in July.
The bridge will have just one track, but it will be built to accommodate a future second track.
The project is part of a larger push by Virginia transportation officials to improve the state’s rail service between Fredericksburg and Washington. Other projects include an extension of a third track that currently starts in Alexandria and runs for about 6 mi. from Franconia to Lorton, Construction Equipment Guide reported.
“Expanding passenger rail as an alternative to interstate travel is critical as traffic congestion in northern Virginia continues to grow at an unsustainable rate,” said VPRA executive director DJ Stadtler. “Building the Franconia-Springfield Bypass will allow us to expand our state-supported rail service by alleviating train interference at the most congested point in Virginia. The bypass is key to providing Virginians with reliable, consistent, and convenient passenger rail service.”
The new rail project’s federal funding comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in November 2021 and a fiscal year 2022 spending package, Warner’s office says.