STATE RAIL PLAN

RESOLUTION

 

 

WHEREAS, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (VDRPT) is developing a State Rail Plan that will address the present and future needs for rail in the Commonwealth and provide a strategy to address them; and

 

WHEREAS, the State Rail Plan will address commuter, intercity, higher speed and high speed rail services as well as multimodal integration of rail with other modes of transportation; and

 

WHEREAS, the DRPT has asked for public input on the needs, priorities and rail improvements to be considered when developing the State Rail Plan; and

 

WHEREAS, the US29 – I-66 (Piedmont) rail corridor between Danville and Alexandria is home to 30 percent of the state’s population; and

 

WHEREAS, the cities, towns and counties of the Piedmont Corridor have experienced significant growth — both residential and commercial — and with it, significant increases in highway traffic travel time for through-corridor trips; and

 

WHEREAS, the City of Charlottesville and the surrounding Albemarle County, home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia, have been a transportation cross roads since colonial times, as well as a major east-west and north-south rail hub; and

 

WHEREAS, fifty years ago, when the combined population of the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County was less than 60,000 and the University of Virginia had an enrollment of 5,000 students, the City was the stop for 22 passenger trains a day operated by the Southern and C & O Railroads; and

 

WHEREAS, today, with a metro area population of almost 200,000 and a University enrollment of more than 20,000, the community is served by only one round-trip train a day between New Orleans and New York and an additional train three days a week between Chicago and New York; and

 

WHEREAS, these trains are frequently overbooked and cannot meet the passenger demand in our area, and ridership is hampered by the poor on-time performance (Crescent 68%; Cardinal 18%) on their long-distance routes, due largely to interference with freight and poor infrastructure in non-Virginia portions of the route; and

 

WHEREAS, in spite of these impediments the Charlottesville Amtrak station has the highest ridership per scheduled weekly train of any Amtrak station in Virginia, including Richmond, Newport News, Alexandria, Fredericksburg and Williamsburg; and

 

WHEREAS, a Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce survey found that more than 60 percent of area businesses regularly conduct business in DC and Northern Virginia; 84 percent of the time they travel there by car, and more than two-thirds (66.6 percent) said they would use rail as an alternative if a speedy rail line were available; and  

 

WHEREAS, the relocation of more of the Federal Government’s national security activity from the Washington area into Albemarle County, the increase in the extent and national reputation of the University’s healthcare and research activities, the rising cost of oil and the environmental concerns brought on by carbon based emissions, have heightened the interest in alternatives to the automobile; and

 

WHEREAS, recognizing Charlottesville as an underserved market, Amtrak has recommended to VDRPT that steps be taken to implement new Lynchburg to Washington rail service “as soon as possible” – including any capital improvements needed to the existing rail line by the host railroad; and

 

WHEREAS, Amtrak reports that the addition of a second daily train can be accomplished easily and at a relatively low cost; and

 

WHEREAS, the Route 29 passenger rail corridor is significantly under-served compared to the I-95 corridor, where the State has made massive investments for rail infrastructure and operations, having fewer than one-half the weekly service of Newport News and one-sixth the weekly service of Richmond; and

 

WHEREAS, an application for State Rail Enhancement Funds (REF) for capital investments in the corridor in support of the proposed new Amtrak passenger service has been developed by Norfolk Southern Railroad and is included in the list of projects recommended by VDRPT for inclusion in the State’s 2009-2014 Six Year Improvement Program;

 

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors urges the VDRPT to include enhanced passenger rail service for US29 (Piedmont Corridor) in the State Rail Plan, specifically the proposed new daily direct service between Lynchburg and Washington, DC and on to New York and Boston, as proposed by Amtrak; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors urges the Commonwealth Transportation Board to approve the DRPT’s recommended REF funding needed for infrastructure investments to support new passenger service in the corridor; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors requests that the DRPT identify the US29 corridor as the State’s top priority for funding new rail service according to Amtrak’s recommended Short Term Action Plan for Advancing Passenger Rail in the Commonwealth.

 

 

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