Secretary urges continued cooperation to build project. Project would reduce trip time to just over 2 hours from current 3.5.

DOT_Logo_150pxWashington –  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the State of North Carolina and the Commonwealth of Virginia announced today that they have signed off on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed Richmond to Raleigh (R2R) passenger rail line along the Southeast Corridor. The completion of the FEIS is one of the final steps necessary before construction of the project can move forward once funding is secured.

“Without a strong passenger rail system, the Southeast’s growth will be choked by congestion for a very long time,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “North Carolina, Virginia and the Department of Transportation have worked together to bring us closer to high-speed rail connecting Richmond and Raleigh, and I urge everyone involved to continue pushing this effort forward. High-speed rail in this region is not a luxury but a necessity.”

The 162-mile route between the two cities would utilize existing and former rail lines for approximately 60 percent of the route and is planned to be free from at-grade crossings of track and roads. This route is part of a larger multi-state planning effort to provide high-speed passenger service between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In July, Secretary Foxx announced that the Department of Transportation would invest approximately $1 million to develop a regional long-term vision for the corridor and engage states and stakeholders to help the region form a governance organization that can sustain planning efforts and implement the vision.

“Today brings us closer to breaking ground on this critical project for one of the fastest growing areas of the country.  The project will improve safety and reliability, reduce the travel time between Richmond and Raleigh, and increase opportunity for jobs and growth in the Southeast,” FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said.

A recent U.S. Department of Transportation report, Beyond Traffic, in turn found that our country will add 70 million more people by 2045, and that the Southeast will indeed absorb a significant portion of that growth. The FEIS includes responses to comments from citizens, elected officials, residents, businesses and other stakeholders that have been involved in the process.

DOT_Logo_150pxRALEIGH, N.C. — USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced last month that a federally-led regional study will be conducted to develop a shared, workable vision for a Southeast passenger rail network. Secretary Foxx noted that:

“A world-class passenger rail network in our fastest-growing regions is no luxury; it’s a necessity.
[The US Department of Transportation] will undertake a … planning effort to create a shared, workable vision for a Southeast passenger rail network that connects Washington, DC to Richmond, to Charlotte, to Raleigh, and to Atlanta. These are cities that –like their Northeast Corridor counterparts– are business and population centers between which people need a travel option beyond crowded highways and airplanes.”

The planning process will help establish a common, long-term vision for intrastate and regional passenger rail services based upon existing conditions, projections of future travel demand, and the optimal role for the rail network with multi-modal connections.

The study was awarded in response to a Statement of Interest submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) by the N.C. Department of Transportation on behalf of the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The study will build upon work already completed by these partners as well as the Virginia-North Carolina Interstate Rail Compact. 

The study will be led by FRA and a consultant team with input from multiple stakeholders including state departments of transportation, state and regional economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, Class I, regional, and short line railroad operators, regional and select local planning organizations, select regional and local transit operators, and rail advocacy groups. 

Through stakeholder dialogue and engagement, the study will develop an implementable vision for the role of rail in providing transportation options between growing business and population centers, and in promoting economic development in the Southeast.