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Virginia Wins Sliver Of Needed Rail Money

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Virginia will receive millions of dollars to upgrade the Washington to Richmond rail line.
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Virginia will receive millions of dollars to upgrade the Washington to Richmond rail line.

By Peter Granitz

Despite a $75 million grant to upgrade an 11-mile stretch of the railway between Washington and Richmond, some people want to know to pay for the rest of the corridor.

Rich Sampson, editor of Rail Magazine, says money Virginia won is just a sliver of what it could secure in the next few years.

Sampson says landing this money in the first go-around should force the Commonwealth to apply again when more federal money becomes available.

"You want to build momentum from the first project onward through successive ones," he says. "That leads me to believe there will be additional investments in Virginia going forward."

Sampson says completely upgrading the Washington-Richmond line will take more than $1.7 billion. That money would go to adding more lines, so passenger rail would not have to yield to freight lines in what sometimes seems like drawn-out games of chicken.

"I'd like to complain but I'm grateful for what we got," he says.

Republican Joe May represents Leesburg in the House of Delegates and chairs the Transportation Committee. He says the 11-mile upgrade near Quantico was the only shovel-ready project in Virginia.

"Would I have liked to have gotten more in Virginia? You bet your boots," says May. "But it's sort of hard to compete with the California shovel read."

May says Virginia is in a transportation funding crisis and will apply for future federal money.

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