Who has the best lights in town? Vote now for your favorite in our holiday lights contest.
More state money lays a faster track for passenger rail to return to Roanoke.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Welcome news arrived in Roanoke last week: The state will likely kick in $3 million of the estimated $6.1 million needed to build a passenger rail platform over Trout Run capable of withstanding the weight of trains.
Roanoke was prepared to ride solo, hoping to have it ready by the time the train arrived from Lynchburg.
Thelma Drake, director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, said the state didn’t want to risk Roanoke losing out if it couldn’t bring the station in on time.
“This is one of the governor’s top priorities,” she said. And one of the region’s, too.
The sticker shock of the $6.1 million platform wore off quickly for a determined Roanoke City Council that shuffled its capital project schedule, wait-listing other desirable, but not crucial, projects. Still, it wouldn’t have all the funds until 2016.
With the state sharing in the added financial burden that came from siting the platform in a challenging location — made necessary in order not to interfere with freight traffic — the train now might arrive ahead of schedule. Welcome news for all clamoring for the return of passenger rail. All the more welcome since it demonstrates that divided political factions can pull together on desirable projects.
The return of passenger rail to Roanoke — and someday, westward and beyond — is only made possible because of cooperation between local and state officials, Democrats and Republicans, and people capable of working, at least on this, toward the common good. A good that people have shown with their enthusiasm and participation that they want the government to provide.
Passenger rail in Virginia is a desired commodity, and the train that now originates in Lynchburg is one of the few Amtrak lines nationwide that operates in the black, so deep is the demand for the service.
Though a few things have stood in the way of extending the line to Roanoke, none threatened to derail the project more than a lack of money. That obstacle was lowered with the passage of the governor’s transportation bill, which might not have happened had Roanoke Del. Onzlee Ware not crossed party lines to help craft a compromise. Without it, Roanoke would be years waiting on the train. With it, the project is on a faster track than hoped just a few months ago.
Weather JournalEnd of the blog as we know it?