Virginia residents from Lynchburg to the D.C. area were given the exciting news last November that a new rail line was being proposed between these two cities. We were told it could be up and running as early as next Fall. The Piedmont Rail Coalition had worked tirelessly to gather support for this proposal from 21 separate jurisdictions throughout the area. It looked as if thousands of citizens would have one more transportation option, and that the US 29 corridor would finally see some needed relief.
But things are now tenuous ...
Senator William Wampler has introduced to the Senate Finance Committee an all-or-nothing budget for the proposed new lines,
"It is the intent of the General Assembly that no Commonwealth Transportation Funds shall be allocated for funding the construction of any segment of the TransDominion Express, or like project, until such time as funding for all sections of the corridor from Bristol to Washington D.C/Richmond is included within the Statewide Rail Plan."Meredith Richards, of the Piedmont Rail Coalition, parses this legislation in no uncertain terms,
"If this amendment passes it WILL kill our new service and jeopardize new passenger rail service across the state."Lynchburg is up in arms about this. "Pernicious," says the Chair of their Chamber of Commerce. I imagine that many citizens concerned with either regional economic development or, on a broader scale, environmental sustainability are feeling much the same way. An investment of $17 million a year will cover BOTH this line and another to Richmond. This is small change in the world of transportation funding.