RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — The House of Delegates approved HB 1893 — which was introduced by Del. Chris Hurst (D-12) to establish the New River Valley Passenger Rail Station Authority — on Monday with a vote of 90-8, sending the bill to Gov. Ralph Northam’s desk to be signed.
According to a statement released by Hurst’s office on Monday, Feb. 22, the measure establishes the ability to create and maintain passenger rail in the New River Valley.
In addition, the legislation reportedly allows regional localities to enter into revenue-sharing agreements and to create a governing board that includes community members and representatives from higher learning institutions.
Officials say this measure coincides with a $50 million line item in Northam’s introduced budget to help negotiations between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Norfolk Southern to create a new Amtrak stop.
“HB 1893 made its final passage in the House and is on its way to the Governor for his signature,” said Hurst. “The creation of the NRV passenger rail station authority is an important step to bringing passenger rail to the residents of the New River Valley. It’s an honor working with local leaders to get this important piece of legislation passed. Passenger rail services will bring new economic opportunities to the region and will also help to relieve congestion on I-81. This is a big win for the New River Valley. I am looking forward to continuing to work with local leaders on the next crucial steps of this project.”
Officials say the bill will not only impact the New River Valley’s economy, but also create a pathway for passenger rail expansion in the New River Valley and the Roanoke Valley in the future.
“Establishing passenger rail from Roanoke to Christiansburg would be an important step in connecting NRV businesses and residents to economic hubs in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States,” Hurst’s office said in Monday’s statement.
In addition, officials say the passenger rail will provide Virginia Tech and Radford University students with extra transportation resources and provide other motorists with alternatives to driving on I-81, thus reducing interstate traffic.