The latest on the track to high-speed rail

When he was elected last week, John Kasich, the Republican governor-elect of Ohio, renewed a campaign pledge to end a $400 million stimulus-funded rail project in his state.

“Passenger rail is not in Ohio’s future,” Kasich said. “That train is dead.” In Virginia, high-speed rail is still on the tracks.

Public hearings for the Tier II Environment Impact Statement (EIS) for the Richmond to Raleigh, N.C., segment of Virginia’s high-speed rail project were completed in July and local community meetings made news in September. The Southeast High-Speed Rail planning and engineering team last week offered a thank you to those who attended public meetings and submitted comments.

“We received over 1,800 comments from individuals and agencies in Virginia and North Carolina,” said Christine Fix, rail planning coordinator for Virginia’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). “We heard your comments, and are at work now compiling and analyzing the input and evaluating options. The public input will be considered along with other data and constraints in the selection of a recommended alternative. We anticipate this work to take several more months.”

In October, Fix updated the Richmond Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) on passenger rail services, projects and studies in the area. She talked about funding that DRPT needed for Tier II EIS for the Washington, D.C., to Richmond corridors. Just weeks ago, the project was funded with $45.4 million from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Fix also gave a report on the status of the Richmond/Hampton Roads High-Speed Rail project. One of the routes currently being studied, and preferred by the Commonwealth

Transportation Board, would be run on the same track that is being considered for the Richmond to Raleigh high-speed route that also runs through Chester. For more information, visit the project website at www.sehsr.org or www.rich2hrrail.info.

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