Rail bridge in Washington, D.C., needs help to accommodate increase in train traffic

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
rail bridge
Officials are considering a project that involves the construction of another bridge alongside the Long Bridge. There also will be a bike and pedestrian bridge.
Long Bridge Project

Officials do not think the Long Bridge in the Washington, D.C., area needs to put on any more muscle. It just needs a companion.

By 2040, traffic on the rail bridge, which carries about 76 trains daily, is expected to increase 150 percent. To prepare for the extra capacity, the Long Bridge needs some help. The span, which is the cause of a bottleneck because the main line goes from three tracks to two leading up to the crossing, is in good condition. CSX, owner of the bridge, executed a rehabilitation project just three years ago. Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak also use the bridge.

Construction of a second bridge alongside the Long Bridge over the Potomac River has been proposed. That span also will hold two tracks and will cost as much as $1.6 billion and take about five years to build. Officials favor the option because it is the most cost-effective and will impact the environment the least. The project also will include a bike and pedestrian bridge which will be located upstream of the Long Bridge. Another alternative is to take down the Long Bridge and build two, two-track spans. Work would cost $2.8 billion and would last more than eight years.

A final recommendation will be made next year, and design could take another two years before construction will begin on a second bridge. Washington, D.C., and Virginia are trying to land grants to help fund the project, but $30 million is already available for design and engineering. Half of that funding is coming from state rail funding, while the other half is a CSX contribution.

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Categories: Bridge/Retaining Walls/Tunnels, Class 1, Commuter/Regional, Freight, Passenger, Rail News, Railroad News, Track Structure
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