Ashland mayor says proposed third rail ‘would truly decimate our economy’

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Commonwealth’s Board of Transportation Department met with the Department of Rail and Public Transportation Tuesday to learn more about the highly contested third rail and western bypass proposals that would run from Washington D.C. to Richmond

Emily Stock, Manager of Rail Planning for the DRPT, explained that they are following a federal initiative that aims to look at improvement options for a rail that runs along I-95.

According to Stock, a third rail would better accommodate future passenger growth, but residents and officials in Hanover County aren’t on board.

Robert Lindgren, President of Randolph-Macon College, says the third rail would “irreversibly cut” the campus in half.

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“It’s going to create a barrier all the way through, eliminating or greatly decreasing the amount of foot-traffic that goes back and forth on both sides of our campus,” Lindgren said.

Ashland Mayor James Foley said he’s grateful the transportation board will be able to judge for themselves.

“They’re going to walk up and down the tracks and they’re going to see how tight it is already and how a third rail could not fit safely with all the historic buildings being at risk,” he said. “It would truly decimate our economy.”

Robert Foley.
Robert Foley.

In cutting through Hanover County, the western bypass option would also force some residents living in its path to uproot. People like Carey Carlisle, who just built a home in the area.

“The day we found out about the bypass, we were digging our well,” she said. “And there’s no way of getting out of the contract, so we proceed on. Windows and doors are in the structure and we intend to be in it this spring and enjoy it.

e3a2f1663fa84f439d9b9a6a3543c659“We’re not rolling over belly up. We’re going to encourage the DRPT and the CBT to select an alternative rather than running it through our homes.”

The next step for the DRPT will be to draft an environmental impact statement and continue to hold public information meetings.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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