4th track will start to untangle congested passenger rail service between Va. and DC

The major goal of Virginia’s partnership with Amtrak, CSX and Virginia Railway Express is to reduce frequent bottlenecks of passenger and freight trains traveling between Virginia, D.C. and up and down the East Coast.

The most ambitious part of the Long Bridge project will be to construct a new, two-track railroad bridge over the Potomac River, next to the existing two-track, 117-year-old Long Bridge, which is owned by CSX.

The addition of the new bridge will double the capacity of trains that can cross the river — two tracks will be dedicated to passenger rail and two will be for freight rail use.

While the Long Bridge project is one of the Phase 2 aspects of the $3.7 billion Transforming Rail in Virginia program, one local project is expected to begin construction by spring 2024.

Currently, the Alexandria VRE and Amtrak station on King Street has a total of three tracks, which serve both passenger and freight traffic.

Final design is underway to construct 6 miles of a fourth railroad track between Alexandria and Arlington. Eventually, the four tracks will be integrated with the Long Branch construction, to create an opportunity to separate freight and passenger rail service.

Karina Romero, communications manager for the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority, said the design should be complete by the end of the year, and that VPRA will begin community outreach in the next several months.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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