Opinion

Federal government slows reality of high-speed rail to D.C.

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Richmonders shouldn’t expect a faster train trip to Washington, D.C., anytime soon.

Virginia received only $75 million of the $8 billion in federal grants offered to expand high-speed rail service in the country.

State officials had sought $1.8 billion to build high-speed rail service between Petersburg and Washington. It would have been a key piece of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, a multistate effort to bring high-speed rail from Charlotte to Washington, D.C.

Virginia will use the $75 million to build 11 miles of track in Northern Virginia to improve a bottleneck in that area.

While Virginia was a big loser in the grants, North Carolina, Florida, California and Illinois were major winners. Florida will connect high-speed rail between Orlando and Tampa; California will connect major population centers of San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego; and Chicago will upgrade rail service between St. Louis and Chicago.

Interestingly, North Carolina received $545 million to improve speed and train frequencies between Charlotte and Raleigh. That will certainly connect major population and business centers of the state — but it doesn’t connect them to high-speed rail out of Washington.

Virginia had good reasoning behind its requests. High-speed rail exists between Washington and Boston. Extending service to the Richmond area would have done a lot of good for the state economy and commuters along the Interstate 95 corridor.

These are benefits that would have boosted not just to Virginia but along the entire Eastern corridor.


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