Virginia is looking for builders for the $2.3 billion Long Bridge project, which is still on track for a 2030 opening, The Washington Post reports.
Virginia Passenger Rail Authority executive director D.J. Stadtler says the state plans to select the builders by this fall. With approvals already in place from federal and local agencies on the preliminary plans, the firms would be able to move into a five-year construction period in early 2025, he said.
State transportation officials told the newspaper that the plan to double capacity for trains over the Potomac River is moving ahead despite inflation that has driven up the project’s cost and contributed to a $389 million budget shortfall.
Construction costs are projected to be nearly $240 million higher than they were expected a year ago. While the funding gap might cause delays, officials say the new bridge is still on track for a 2030 opening.
“The existing 117-year-old, double-track span over the Potomac — the main route for trains traveling south from Washington — is at 98 percent capacity during peak traffic times,” the published report says. “Plans call for a new two-track span parallel to the current Long Bridge that would separate passenger and freight trains, boost commerce and meet demands for passenger trains along the Interstate 95 corridor.”
The project within a 1.8-mile corridor is central to Virginia’s ambitious $7.2 billion rail program, which would add service on Amtrak and the Virginia Railway Express, as well as expand passenger train operations across the state this decade.
The second rail bridge, along with construction of new track south of L’Enfant Plaza in DC, will create a four-track crossing for train traffic heading from and into Virginia. Plans also include a pedestrian and bike bridge between Long Bridge Park in Arlington and East Potomac Park in the District.
“The rail authority this spring is beginning a months-long selection process to determine construction teams for the project, which it has split into two segments: On the northern side, work includes construction of several bridges from the Potomac shore to L’Enfant Plaza, while work on the southern side will focus on the parallel bridge over the water.”
Approvals are already in place from federal and local agencies on the preliminary plans. This means the selected contractors would be able to move into a five-year construction period in early 2025, Stadtler said.