Is it really possible? Could Virginia really be getting a rail service from Washington DC to Richmond? Could this rail service eventually connect Northern Virginia with Hampton Roads? Well, if Virginia lawmakers get their way, this very well could be possible. President Obama’s stimulus plan includes grants for the development and improvement of high speed rail service. However, Central Virginia isn’t the only region vying for the money. Central Virginia will be competing against other East Coast areas, as well as the Gulf Coast, New England, Chicago, Southern California, and parts of the Pacific Northwest, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
So what would a high-speed rail system mean to Central Virginia and Northern Virginia? First, it opens up job opportunities that were once out of reach. The proposed high-speed rail service would take roughly 45 minutes to an hour to get from Richmond to DC. Now Richmond and it’s surrounding areas could become bedroom communities to the nation’s capital. As Fredericksburg can attest, being one of DC’s bedroom communities can boost your economy and help stabilize and increase home values. The rail system itself stands to generate several thousand jobs. Second, the proposed rail system would take thousands of cars off of our already overused, inadequate highway system. Not having to deal with the bottleneck of I-95 and I-295 just north of Richmond is very appealing to many commuters and travelers. The negative environmental impact these cars have is also a concern for many residents of Central Virginia. Third, the high-speed rail system could open up tourism opportunities for many southern localities. Visitors to DC would have a convenient mode of travel that would allow them to also visit the Confederate Capital, as well as “The Most Historic City in America,” Fredericksburg, and eventually the colonial town of Williamsburg. This would greatly help the tourism industry and possibly open up new jobs.
The keys to a successful high-speed rail system are support from local lawmakers, support from local communities, ease of use, cost effectiveness of use, and adequate funding for the project. The proposed rail system has the potential of opening Virginia’s landmarks and communities to a global market. This could give Virginia the distinction of not only being rich in history, but being rich in accessibility.