RICHMOND, Va. – VPRA selects Skanska/Flatiron Joint Venture for the Long Bridge-North Package and Flatiron/Herzog Joint Venture for the Franconia-Springfield Bypass
The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) announced in a press release that it has selected Skanska/Flatiron Joint Venture for the Long Bridge-North Package and Flatiron/Herzog Joint Venture for the Franconia-Springfield Bypass.
“Selecting construction partners for the Long Bridge-North Package and the Franconia-Springfield Bypass represents a significant milestone in our plan to build passenger rail infrastructure at a level not seen in generations. . . We look forward to working with both teams in this important step toward making rail a viable transportation option and truly Transforming Rail in Virginia,” said Executive Director of VPRA, DJ Stadtler.
Jennifer DeBruhl, Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation and Chair of the VPRA Board said: “We are eager to collaborate with both teams to bring Virginia another step closer in dramatically improving its rail infrastructure. . . With the Long Bridge-North Package and Franconia-Springfield Bypass, Virginians will one day be able to have more abilities to travel by train, and the economy will grow with a more efficient rail network benefitting both passenger and freight rail.”
LONG BRIDGE-NORTH PACKAGE
According to the press release, the Long Bridge-North Package will use a Progressive Design-Build project delivery method. Earlier this year, VPRA issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for qualified design-build teams for the north end of the Long Bridge Project from the northern banks of the Potomac River to south of the L’Enfant Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Station. Selecting Skanska/Flatiron Joint Venture is a major step toward the realization of the largest project in the Commonwealth’s TRV initiative. The Long Bridge is near 30% design, and the “Skanska/Flatiron Joint Venture team will take the project from the design phase through construction.” In 2024, early prep work will begin “with full construction commencing in early 2025,” and “construction is expected to be completed in 2030.”
Currently, the Long Bridge is a 119-year-old railroad bridge connects Arlington, Virginia with Washington D.C. It operates at 98% capacity during peak, and “as a result, additional capacity is necessary to meet future demand and to relieve a major chokepoint for rail traffic along the East Coast.”
The Project has two procurement packages – a North Package and a South Package. These will “construct a new modern, two-track railroad bridge and will allow for the separation of passenger and freight rail traffic, improving trip times and on-time performance for both along the corridor.” The South Package is currently in the procurement process with Request for Proposals (RFP) that will be released to shortlisted teams in February 2024.
The North Package covers a complicated area of construction from the new bridge’s northern abutment to L’Enfant interlocking near L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. The construction work includes:
- “A new rail bridge over WMATA Portal/I-395;
- The replacement of the existing two-track Ohio Drive SW Rail Bridge with a four-track bridge;
- The replacement of the existing two-track Washington Channel Rail Bridge with a four-track bridge;
- The replacement of the existing two-track Maine Avenue SW Rail Bridge with a four-track bridge; and
- The replacement of the Maine Avenue SW Pedestrian Bridge.”
The total cost of the Long Bridge Project is estimated to be $2.3 billion. This includes both the North and South Packages.
According to the release, the Franconia-Springfield Bypass project will be delivered using the Construction Manager/General Contractor project delivery method. VPRA selected Flatiron/Herzog Joint Venture after issuing a RFP. The project will alleviate train interference between Fredericksburg and Washington, D.C. The area is one of the most congested areas in Virginia, and when the project is completed, “the bypass will be an approximately 0.9-mile-long dedicated passenger rail bridge located just south of the Franconia-Springfield Metro station.” Construction work is slated to begin by the end of March of 2024 and last for two years.
Flatiron Senior Vice President for Mid-Atlantic, Jim Schneiderman said: “Flatiron and Herzog are thrilled to partner with the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority on the Franconia-Springfield Bypass project. This partnership leverages our collective rail expertise throughout North America and strengthens Flatiron’s presence in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. area. . . Flatiron and Herzog are both committed to enhancing the well-being of communities in which we live and work. This project will do just that by reducing congestion and providing safer, more reliable rail service.”
This bypass structure will allow passenger trains to cross over two freight tracks to reach passenger stops on the other side of the railroad, allowing for “improved service for both passenger and freight trains in the area.” Owned by the VPRA, the bypass will also create two separate rail corridors, “one for passenger trains and one for freight trains and will serve both Amtrak and VRE trains.” The estimated cost for the Bypass project is $405 million.
In 2021, VPRA launched the Transforming Rail in Virginia (TRV) initiative “with a goal to expand the availability of passenger rail throughout the Commonwealth.” The 10-year initiative will “acquire railroad corridors and upgrade them, increasing rail capacity with a portfolio of capital projects designed to improve reliability and increase rail service in Virginia.” VPRA reports Amtrak is contributing $944 million to the program while serving as VRPA’s operational partner for the Amtrak Virginia state-supported rail service.
Amtrak Vice President Ray Lang said: “We celebrate this major development that will get shovels in the ground and start construction for these projects. We are proud for these projects. We are proud to partner with VPRA and share the commitment to transform transportation by creating the infrastructure to expand East Coast commuter and passenger train capacity.”
VPRA was able to purchase the railroad corridor for the TRV projects through an agreement with CSX. While the projects are focused on passenger rail, they will also “alleviate congestion on freight tracks, thereby increasing the availability of CSX freight throughput for the Commonwealth and the Port of Virginia.”
Randy Marcus, Director of State Relations for VA, WV, and DC for CSX Transportation said: “CSX congratulates VPRA on selection of construction partners for the Long Bridge North and Franconia-Springfield Bypass projects. . . Infrastructure projects like these are essential to expanding capacity, improving fluidity, and separating freight and passenger operations in this congested corridor. We look forward to continuing to advance our partnership with Virginia to deliver improved service to both CSX customers and CRE and Amtrak riders.” The VRE has supported VRPA projects with up to $200 million in contributions toward the TRV program.
“These two projects will be game changers for VRE, allowing us to expand service in the region,” said VRE’s CEO Rich Dalton. “And the reduction in congestion that will result from the separation of freight and passenger trains will significantly improve our reliability. VRE is pleased to partner with VPRA and see these projects move forward.”
“NVTA’s $23 million investment in the Franconia-Springfield Bypass Project is more than a financial contribution; it’s a commitment to deliver faster, more frequent, and reliable passenger rail service to Virginia, said Monica Backmon, Chief Executive Officer, Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA). “We take pride in this investment, as it represents our dedication to providing multimodal options to reduce congestion, ultimately moving commuters more efficiently.”
Through TRV, the Commonwealth of Virginia will:
- increase state-supported Amtrak service between Richmond and Washington, D.C., resulting in nearly hourly service along this corridor.
- Increase Amtrak service to Roanoke, Newport News, and Norfolk.
- Extend Amtrak service from Roanoke to the New River Valley (Christiansburg and construct a new passenger station and platform.
- Increase VRE Fredericksburg Line service by 75% and add new late-night and weekend service.