Region pushes Senate to increase rail funding

Published: Dec. 10, 2009 at 12:08 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 10, 2009 at 12:19 AM EST
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By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Greater Richmond is on board with high speed rail. Now it's asking the Senate to get on track.

"The Senate passed 1.2 billion. The House increased them to 4 billion and we're asking the Senate to come right along and join the train," said Daniel Plaugher, Virginia's for High Speed Rail.

Area leaders gathered at the Main Street Train Station for their third show of support for faster rail service.

"My support for high speed rail is unequivocal. It is definitely something that I believe is priority number one for our region," said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones.

Dozens of states are competing for this money. So far there are 57 billion dollars worth of requests to fund high speed rail around the nation. Virginia has applied for 1.75 billion dollars in federal funds. The money would be used to build a new track between Richmond and Washington D.C, to improve access at Main Street Station and to upgrade the speed of the trains.

"Speed those five mile an hour trains between the two Richmond stations and get them up to 40-50 miles an hour," said Plaugher.

Construction of the new track alone is expected to generate 12,000 jobs.

"This could be a real game changer for the region. It's going to enable companies that want to be here and do business in Washington to do that with confidence and with regularity and know that they can get on a train and be in Washington in time for their meetings," said Kim Scheeler, Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

Frank Smith has been taking the train back and forth to D.C. for years.

Frank Smith: "All in all it's a good form of transportation."
Rachel DePompa: "And if they could make it faster and more reliable?"
Frank Smith: "Oh, I'd ride it all the time instead of driving."

The two bills now move into a committee. A final version could be voted on in early 2010. That's also when we could learn if Virginia will be one of the few states selected to receive the money.

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