The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) has announced the launch of the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Feasibility Study, which is a study of potential passenger rail station locations in and around the New River Valley.
The following information provides a brief highlight of activities to-date that have led to the launch of the study:
On May 5, 2021, the Governor of Virginia announced that the commonwealth had reached an agreement with Norfolk Southern to extend passenger rail service along the former Virginian line from Roanoke to the New River Valley for the first time since 1979.
The governor’s announcement outlined Virginia’s intent to purchase 28.5 miles of right-of-way and tracks along the former Virginian Line from the Salem Crossovers west of Roanoke to Merrimac (Christiansburg) from Norfolk Southern and to increase and extend passenger rail service from Roanoke to the New River Valley through infrastructure improvements along the existing rail line and move forward a new passenger station.
In the fall of 2021, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority began a feasibility study to examine five potential station locations in and around the New River Valley. The station locations are along existing Norfolk Southern railroad corridors that are currently operated for freight trains only.
The New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Feasibility Study reflects on previous work conducted for the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station locations in the region while examining what station location opportunities are possible following the governor’s May 2021 announcement.
The feasibility study will examine and screen potential station locations to inform a Federal Railroad Administration National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Class of Action determination.
The authority has created various ways for the general public and key stakeholders to learn more about the new feasibility study and to provide input: a dedicated website, https://transformingrailva.com/projects/new-river-valley-station/, hosts all project-related information including survey links and public meeting details; a community meeting in the winter with a target date of February to present the results of the feasibility study to the public. Details will be posted on the project website as the date for the meeting nears. Post-meeting material will be archived and available on the project website; a social media campaign to advertise and broadcast the study, focusing on key outreach milestones and ways the public can play a role in this important planning process.
Finally, two surveys will engage stakeholders, property owners, and the general public during the planning process. Survey 1 will solicit public input and will allow the authority to consider the public’s priorities and knowledge about the locations as part of the location screening process. Survey 1 will launch Dec. 22 and close Jan. 31. The survey is available on the project website and also by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NewRiverValleyStationSurvey.
Survey 2 solicits public input about the study results to interpret stakeholder feedback after the community meeting.
For more information on the study, go to https://transformingrailva.com/projects/new-river-valley-station/.
The timetable for the project is development in 2022 with engineering in 2022-2023 and construction in 2023 through 2025.