Since 1996, the State of Virginia has been working with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Southeastern High Rail Corridor project to establish high speed rail passenger connections that would connect the City of Richmond to places like Columbia, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Raleigh, North Carolina. The project is being done as a way of providing high speed rail transportation all along the east coast.
However, while the project has been successful at engineering promising ideas in places such as Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina, urban planners have in turn hit bumps in Richmond, Virginia.
One of the reasons for this is because of the actual cost to fund a transportation project of this magnitude. Many urban planners have argued that a transportation project of this size would take over $600 million to make the necessary engineering improvements to local train lines and to create a centralized location where passengers board and disembark. This is in addition to the $44.3 million grant that the state has already received from the U.S. Transportation Agency to create contemporary plans for the southeastern high speed rail connection in, and throughout, Virginia.
Another reason that this project has been slow to develop has been due to the city’s recent shift in priority from high speed trail creation in Richmond to improving deteriorating infrastructure, such as the Huguenot Bridge improvement project and the I-95 Bridge Improvement project. These projects have taken numerous funds away from the trains and redirected them to highway safety.
The last reason can be directed at the downturned economy. Since the beginning of the recession, Richmond has been reluctant to allocate major funds to an engineering project, such as this, when there are other pressing needs such as lack of funding for public schools and the rising unemployment in certain areas. Therefore, most funds that would normally be used for high speed rail have instead been reserved for issues like these. Ultimately, projects such as high speed rail simply aren’t the main focus for Richmond right now.
What do you think prevents high speed rail from coming to fruition in areas that don’t have it?
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