Railroads are an environmentally-friendly and energy efficient way to move goods on land. A mainline railroad operated by CSX carries freight trains through the Monumental Core of Washington, DC, running through residential areas, the Southwest Federal Center and within four blocks of the United States Capitol. CSX operates approximately 20 miles of railroad in the District of Columbia and some of the products shipped include coal, iron, steel, machinery, railroad equipment and logs. In addition to freight movement, more than 90 commuter trains operate on CSX tracks through the District of Columbia daily, including 24 Amtrak trains, 30 Virginia Railway Express (VRE) trains, and 38 Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) trains. For more information about CSX operations in the District please click here.
Major Rail Infrastructure Projects
National Gateway Project
The National Gateway is a plan to create a more efficient rail route linking Mid-Atlantic ports with Midwestern markets, improving the flow of rail traffic between these regions by increasing the use of double-stack trains. This public-private partnership - expected to cost $842 million - will upgrade tracks, equipment and facilities, and provide clearance allowing double-stack intermodal trains (intermodal cargo can be efficiently transported by ship, train or truck in standard-sized shipping containers).
The National Gateway proposes preparing two major rail corridors for double-stack clearance in the District:
I-95 Corridor between North Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland via Washington, D.C.
I-70/I-76 Corridor between Washington, D.C. and northwest Ohio via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
With improved clearances, new terminals and greater capacity, the National Gateway will improve the flow of freight by rail, enhancing the District of Columbia and surrounding region's consumer options. To learn more about the National Gateway project in the District click here.
Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project
The Virginia Avenue Tunnel has been identified as one of the most significant freight bottlenecks on the East Coast. The Virginia Avenue Tunnel, owned by CSX, is part of the primary rail route for freight traffic on the East Coast. The tunnel is approximately 4,000 feet long and runs beneath Virginia Avenue in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Southeast Washington, DC between 2nd and 11th Streets. This project is part of the National Gateway project and will transform the tunnel from a single track tunnel to a double-track, double-stack tunnel. This will allow double stacked trains to move in both directions, enabling more efficient freight movement and reduce truck traffic. The District Department of Transportation is working closely with CSX to develop a comprehensive traffic plan that will ensure minimum disruption to commuter traffic during the project construction phase. To learn more about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project click here. To download a pdf of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Rendering, click here.
Long Bridge Study
In January 2010, the District Department of transportation was awarded $2.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds towards the replacement of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River.
The over 100-year-old Long Bridge over the Potomac River is located east of I-395 and south of East Potomac Park in the District of Columbia. It is a major east-coast freight bridge that carries CSX freight, Virginia Railway Express commuter trains, and all Amtrak trains headed south from Union Station. The Long Bridge connects the northeast with the southeast United States via Washington, DC. Approximately 21 states have intercity passenger trains which use the Long Bridge. It is the only rail crossing of the Potomac River within 70 miles of Washington, DC and is a major choke point for both freight and passenger movement because it carries only two tracks.
The Long Bridge Study project includes preliminary engineering and preparation of National Environmental Policy Act documentation. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has described the Long Bridge Study as being “of utmost importance to the vitality and continued economic development of this city with long term impacts to commerce, tourism, and travel.”
Freight Railroad Realignment Feasibility Study
The District Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the National Capital Planning Commission, has undertaken a study to assess the feasibility of realigning freight railroad operations through the Washington, DC region. This study was conducted to address concerns about the proximity of freight movement to the seat of the federal government and national symbolic sites, and the existing constraints placed on the movement of goods and people by reliance on outdated railroad infrastructure. If you would like more information on the study, please contact DDOT at (202) 671-0682.