Today — Tuesday, November 1st 2016 — the DRPT (Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation) and the CTB (Commonwealth Transportation Board) held two meetings/site visits. The first was in Ashland, the second at the Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg.
There was little in the way of news to report, but here are some personal impressions.
- Attendance in the theater was probably over 200. It included all of the Ashland Town Council and many members of the Hanover Board of Supervisors.
- Speakers included Mayor Foley, Supervisor Stanley and President Lindgren.
- Details as to some of the options were filled out. What was particularly interesting was having the existing tracks used for passenger trains only (about 20 per day) and all freight trains taking the bypass (about 65 per day). Tie that into having a proper station at Ashcake and we have a sensible program for Ashland.
- I think that we heard the the draft Tier II Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has not only been written but it has been sent to the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration).
- Some information regarding spacing between tracks and to the public highway was provided, but we need to see the presentation to be sure of the data.
- We are likely to see bridges over England and Vaughn Streets. This should enhance safety and reduce road congestion.
- President Lindgren expressed opposition to a shorter (350 ft.) station platform on the campus. College expansion programs are focused on the west side of the tracks.
- He and Mayor Foley were adamant in their opposition to a third rail. Foley said that we would be wiling to give up an Ashland station if that’s what it took.
- An eastern bypass would have a greater impact on the local communities than would a western bypass.
- The tunnel option has returned to life.
- Our guests had a bus tour of Center St. and western Hanover County. It was reported that the bus was traveling at > 25 mph down Center St.
- The draft Tier II EIS will probably be published in December 2016. It will be followed by a 60 day comment period to allow for the holidays.
- Attendance at the Fredericksburg meeting was probably over 100. It included Rep. Wittman, Hanover supervisors Hazzard, Stanley and Prichard and elected representatives from other areas.
- There was general agreement that the communication process has been lacking but this was largely attributed to the processes required by the federal government.
- There continues to be opposition to the (eastern) Fredericksburg bypass.
- Residents of western Hanover presented a detailed plan for the use of the Buckingham Branch.