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FRA awards $14.4M to replace Newington Road Bridge in Fairfax County

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The Federal Railroad Administration announced its award of $14.4 million in Federal-State Partnership State of Good Repair funds to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The funding will be used to finance the critical $37 million state-of-good-repair Newington Road Bridge project in Fairfax County.

The substandard two-track railroad bridge will be replaced with both a new, publicly owned two-track structure over Newington Road in Lorton, Virginia, and a new two-track rail bridge for use by CSX Transportation freight trains. The result will be a four-track structure that separates passenger and freight service and provides continuity of corridor operations for both passenger and freight service while construction is underway.

Ultimately, the project will address a state-of-good-repair need for the railroad, as well as improve the rail and roadway network with modern clearances, lower maintenance costs, and increased capacity built for growth.

This project is a key part of the $3.7 billion package of infrastructure improvements built into Governor Northam’s landmark Transforming Rail in Virginia initiative, announced in December 2019, to double passenger rail service over the next decade along the I-95 corridor. Through the Transforming Rail initiative, the Commonwealth will acquire CSXT rights-of-way from the city of Alexandria north to DC, which will allow for the future separation of passenger and freight service. Included in the funding package is $10 million from DRPT for the Newington Bridge Project.

“Transforming Rail in Virginia is a unique opportunity to expand rail service in the Commonwealth,” stated Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The Newington Bridge project is an integral component of that initiative that will modernize a critical asset to meet the demands for safer, more efficient multimodal operations.”

The existing two-track bridge on CSXT’s Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) corridor between Washington, DC, and Richmond, VA, is currently shared between passenger and freight rail. The Newington Bridge Project enables the eventual separation of passenger and freight service in a congested corridor by both constructing a new two-track bridge structure – to be owned and maintained by the Commonwealth of Virginia for passenger rail service – and fully rebuilding the existing two-track structure – owned and maintained by CSXT for freight rail service.

The construction of the new bridge will be phased with replacement of the existing structure in order to maintain two-track railroad operations.

Using a combination of state and local funds to comprise the nearly 62 percent non-federal match to the FRA grant, this project will increase rail capacity, upgrade the underpass to modern Virginia Department of Transportation standards, facilitate multimodal transportation, and reduce operations and maintenance costs of the railroad infrastructure.

“This project addresses a critical repair need for rail in Virginia and will improve the railway and road network with modern clearances, lower maintenance costs, and increased capacity built for growth,” stated Jennifer Mitchell, Director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

This project will bolster transit connectivity in the region where, currently, clearance issues within the Newington Bridge tunnel force local bus services to take more indirect routes. The project also includes construction of a new, four-lane roadway with bicycle and pedestrian access, which will improve multimodal mobility and help manage transportation demand.

“No matter the mode of transportation, all users will benefit from this project,” said Stephen C. Brich, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation. “This project’s roadway improvements aim to provide safe passage for traffic traveling in both directions, improve clearance for pedestrians and cyclists and reduce travel delays.”