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What’s Next: Long Bridge is the Linchpin of High Speed and Regional Rail

What’s Next with Nicole is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.

High speed rail isn’t just a pipedream. But to make it a reality in Arlington, it will require a new bridge.

In the next decade or two, high speed rail lines will shuttle passengers between Richmond and D.C. in less than an hour. A train ride between Arlington and Baltimore will take the same amount of time as taking the Metro to Union Station. This will only happen, however, if we approve and fully fund the Richmond to D.C. Long Bridge rail project.

Long Bridge is the only railroad crossing between D.C. and Virginia — spanning from Crystal City to L’Enfant Plaza. The bridge is 115 years old and currently owned by the rail transportation company CSX. At 98% capacity, it serves 76 trains per day and has become a massive bottleneck for our regional train network.

The five year, $1.9 billion project would expand Long Bridge from two to four tracks and increase the number of trains served everyday by over 250% to 192.

Doubling the number of tracks at Long Bridge is now the highest transportation priority in Virginia, according to state officials. This month, the federal government cleared the environmental impact study requirements to build a high speed rail line between Richmond to D.C., which includes making significant improvements to the Long Bridge. While the project is currently underfunded, it is now eligible for federal transportation funds.

I strongly support the Long Bridge project for four primary reasons:

  • It creates not only a more connected Richmond to Baltimore regional economy, but it will also create the potential for high speed rail spanning the entire East Coast along I-95
  • To relieve congestion along I-95, thus creating a more efficient workforce
  • It is environmentally beneficial, helping to get more cars off the road
  • It will help decrease regional housing costs by making it faster for people living further from urban centers to get to work, expanding what we consider to be Northern Virginia’s housing stock.

I strongly support the Long Bridge project and hope you will join me in showing your support during the public comment period, which ends October 26.

Nicole Merlene is an Arlington native and former candidate for Virginia State Senate. She has served as a leader in the community on the boards of the Arlington County Civic Federation and North Rosslyn Civic Association, as an Arlington Economic Development commissioner, in neighborhood transportation planning groups, and as a civic liaison to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

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