The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is a commuter rail service linking the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia and has plans to expand/relocate it’s rail-car storage capacity as an apparent result of the Union Station Expansion. VRE plans to do this by reactivating abandoned railroad through Union Market and creating a new storage yard on New York Ave. from 4th street to 16th street. See pictures below:
VRE’s plan would expand into a developing community absent of considering the obvious impact not only to the residents of this community but to the community development efforts and livability factor of such a facility. These rails have been abandoned for decades and New York Ave. is becoming a residential and retail destination which will connect many of the communities from NOMA to Fort Lincoln. Today, there is an existing 70 foot buffer between Amtrak Trains & New York Ave, which is used in part by Douglas Development as well as the planned trail connection along New York Ave. which will bring safe multimodal infrastructure to the community. Removing that buffer and storing idling diesel powered trains up to the curb is infuriating and is clearly a lack of engagement and care for the lives of people who live in this community. Moreover, Virginia has much more space to store trains within its own state lines and close Proximity of D.C. but of coarse they wouldn’t dare dump on their own development projects. VRE could easily store their trains at the proposed Long Bridge Park Pool Site which still hasn’t broken ground or in Potomac Yards where they have decommissioned that entire rail yard and is redeveloping.
In addition to the numerous and obvious environmental & health issues that stem from idling trains within close proximity to District residents, this plan would significantly alter, or even in some cases halt or eliminate projects that are driving economic development for the overall community and addressing livability concerns along New York Ave which includes:
Market Terminal in Union Market
The planned N.Y. Ave. Trail Project
Hecht’s Warehouse District Development
The planned New City DC Development
Future Transportation Plans Along NY Ave.
As you can see in the picture below, the The proposed train storage yard extends beyond Montana Avenue.
Where is VRE in the Process?
In May of this year, VRE released it’s solicitation to establish a Contract with one (1) qualified and experienced firm to provide environmental documentation, public outreach and participation, real estate acquisition, urban design, survey, geotechnical investigation and engineering design services for a midday storage facility for rolling stock operated by Virginia Railway Express (VRE). Proposals were due on the 13th of June. It is important that as more information about this project becomes available that we align ourselves with the residents and leadership of the impacted areas and do our part to make light of this potential travesty. The link to the Conceptual Engineering Documents by VRE is below.