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Station repairs planned in Fredericksburg, Va.

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Renovations to the Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express train station in Fredericksburg, Va., are planned to begin in spring 2010, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reports. Federal funds set aside by Virginia 1st District Rep. Jo Ann Davis before her death in 2007 are waiting to be applied to the project. It will improve the appearance and structure of the railroad overpasses that cross Caroline and Princess Anne streets.  

Until then, the city
tries to keep the station clean and make cosmetic repairs, said Matt Kelly, a
Fredericksburg city councilman who sits on the Virginia Railway Express
Operations Board. But the city can do nothing about the warped concrete facade
of the station’s bridges, he said, which belong to railroad company CSX Transportation.
Pieces have chipped off the sides and underbelly and fallen to the road and
sidewalk below.

 

"It’s a drainage
issue," Kelly said.

 

The station is built like
a viaduct, with ballast and train tracks laid into it. There is no single
central draining point for water. Over the years, the drainage system has
become clogged. Trapped water freezes and thaws, damaging the concrete. The
station was built in 1910.

 

Virginia Railway Express
is managing the renovation. There is $2.6 million to fix the station’s structural
issues. VRE hired an engineering firm in 2007 for $50,000 to develop a list of
needed repairs at the station. The firm determined the elevated tracks were
safe to carry trains, but they still needed an overhaul. In August 2008, the
VRE Operations Board approved a contract with STV/RWA Rail Design for $134,800,
with construction work originally scheduled to begin in spring or summer 2009.
Construction has been pushed back to spring 2010.

 

The design plans are 60
percent complete, said Mark Roeber, a VRE spokesman. VRE is waiting for CSXT to
return the 60 percent design with comment. After VRE receives it, a final
design can be drawn, incorporating the company’s comments. Construction work
could begin in January or February, but because of the cold outdoor temperature
then, the work will likely have to wait until spring, Roeber said.

 

The Fredericksburg
station is owned and managed by overlapping entities. CSXT owns the railroad
tracks, ballast and the overpasses carrying the tracks, while Amtrak, VRE and
the city of Fredericksburg maintain small sections of the station and platform
as part of operating agreements.

 

Fixing the drainage will
be expensive, and there is money to repair only the Caroline and Princess Anne
street overpasses, said Fredericksburg senior planner Erik Nelson. Fixing the
overpasses over Charles and Sophia streets will require additional funding,
Nelson said.

 

"They have to take
out all the bad concrete in the designated area and clean up the rebar and, in
some instances, even replace the rebar and then put back clean concrete,"
Nelson said.

 

It won’t be the first
facelift the station has received. When VRE began service in the early 1990s,
the city invested around $1 million to improve the station’s conditions and
make the train platforms handicapped accessible, Nelson said.

 

Also, the city cleaned and
restored moldy shelters that were overhanging track platforms. Rather than
ripping them all down, the city chose to preserve some shelters for historic
reasons, he said. Also, VRE continues to upgrade the station, such as changing
the position of signs when it began using double-decker passenger cars, Nelson
said.
Until then, the city
tries to keep the station clean and make cosmetic repairs, said Matt Kelly, a
Fredericksburg city councilman who sits on the Virginia Railway Express
Operations Board. But the city can do nothing about the warped concrete facade
of the station’s bridges, he said, which belong to railroad company CSX Transportation.
Pieces have chipped off the sides and underbelly and fallen to the road and
sidewalk below.

 

"It’s a drainage
issue," Kelly said. 

 

The station is built like
a viaduct, with ballast and train tracks laid into it. There is no single
central draining point for water. Over the years, the drainage system has
become clogged. Trapped water freezes and thaws, damaging the concrete. The
station was built in 1910.

 

Virginia Railway Express
is managing the renovation. There is $2.6 million to fix the station’s structural
issues. VRE hired an engineering firm in 2007 for $50,000 to develop a list of
needed repairs at the station. The firm determined the elevated tracks were
safe to carry trains, but they still needed an overhaul. In August 2008, the
VRE Operations Board approved a contract with STV/RWA Rail Design for $134,800,
with construction work originally scheduled to begin in spring or summer 2009.
Construction has been pushed back to spring 2010.

 

The design plans are 60
percent complete, said Mark Roeber, a VRE spokesman. VRE is waiting for CSXT to
return the 60 percent design with comment. After VRE receives it, a final
design can be drawn, incorporating the company’s comments. Construction work
could begin in January or February, but because of the cold outdoor temperature
then, the work will likely have to wait until spring, Roeber said.

 

The Fredericksburg
station is owned and managed by overlapping entities. CSXT owns the railroad
tracks, ballast and the overpasses carrying the tracks, while Amtrak, VRE and
the city of Fredericksburg maintain small sections of the station and platform
as part of operating agreements.

 

Fixing the drainage will
be expensive, and there is money to repair only the Caroline and Princess Anne
street overpasses, said Fredericksburg senior planner Erik Nelson. Fixing the
overpasses over Charles and Sophia streets will require additional funding,
Nelson said.

 

"They have to take
out all the bad concrete in the designated area and clean up the rebar and, in
some instances, even replace the rebar and then put back clean concrete,"
Nelson said.

 

It won’t be the first
facelift the station has received. When VRE began service in the early 1990s,
the city invested around $1 million to improve the station’s conditions and
make the train platforms handicapped accessible, Nelson said.

 

Also, the city cleaned and
restored moldy shelters that were overhanging track platforms. Rather than
ripping them all down, the city chose to preserve some shelters for historic
reasons, he said. Also, VRE continues to upgrade the station, such as changing
the position of signs when it began using double-decker passenger cars, Nelson
said.

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