Infrastructure bill could provide boost to Hampton Roads rail systems

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Posted at 2:49 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 17:02:23-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Passengers hoping to take a train to Washington, D.C. or New York have just a few options each day on Amtrak in Hampton Roads, but the proposed infrastructure bill in Congress could change that.

Negotiations are continuing on a bipartisan plan on infrastructure, but the plan would increase funding for transportation - like trains.

"The Amtrak component is critically important to Virginia," said Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia).

Warner has been involved in negotiations on the bill and said he was meeting with White House staffers on Tuesday morning.

"If we get this bipartisan infrastructure deal in place, communities like Norfolk, communities like Newport News will see enhanced rail service," he said. "That's good for the Peninsula. That's good for Hampton Roads."

Earlier this year as talks were just beginning, Amtrak put out its own plan if it were to get increased funding through the bill. Their plan calls for enhanced service to Newport News and Norfolk.

Locally, members of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission have been in touch with lawmakers about the bill and priorities for our area. Increased rail service could help address issues like traffic and congestion.

"It is a huge issue and to be able to have more transit up to Richmond, to D.C. and beyond is going to be really, really important. I'm thrilled Amtrak might get some infusion of dollars, much needed dollars, to create more opportunities for passenger rail," said Andria McClellan, the Chair of the HRPDC and a member of the Norfolk City Council.

McClellan and other local leaders hope the bill also provides funding for other major projects and helps the region address the impacts of sea level rise.

"This could be a huge opportunity for our area," she said.

As the talks continue in Washington, local leaders hope something will be able to pass.

"I'm all for enhancing rail services to this area and throughout the Commonwealth," said McClellan. "The fact of the matter is it's less expensive to add an additional rail line than additional options on our highway systems."