The U.S. and D.C. governments last week published a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) detailing their preferred design for the redevelopment of the Long Bridge, currently the only rail connection over the Potomac River between the District and Virginia. The project would result in four tracks along the corridor, which already conveys both commuter and freight service, including Amtrak, Virginia Railway Express, and CSX trains. Under plans described in the draft EIS, a new rail bridge with two tracks would be placed between the existing Long Bridge and a Metrorail bridge to its north, doubling the corridor’s capacity.
A potential bike and pedestrian bridge might also be built between the proposed railroad bridge and the Metrorail bridge. Measuring roughly 2,300 feet long, it would start in Long Bridge Park; cross over the George Washington Memorial Parkway, the Mount Vernon Trail, the river, and Ohio Drive SW; and end at a parking lot in East Potomac Park. Additional bike and pedestrian routes linking any such bridge to Southwest would be considered as separate projects, the draft EIS notes. The redevelopment is set to cost $1.9 billion and take five years.
The draft EIS, which was compiled by the Federal Railroad Administraiton and the District Department of Transportation, leaves open the question whether the bike and pedestrian bridge would be built concurrently with the new train bridge or after the latter is finished:
“The bike-pedestrian crossing could be constructed along with the railroad bridge construction contract or separately following completion of the Project. If constructed along with the Project construction contract, it is anticipated that construction would begin following completion of the project as the same space is needed to deliver equipment and materials for the railroad bridge pier construction. Therefore, the construction of the bike-pedestrian bridge piers would take place after completion of the railroad bridge piers. Construction would take approximately two additional years.”
Public comment on the project is open through October 28, with a public hearing scheduled for October 22, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., at 1100 4th Street SW. A final design decision is expected in summer 2020, and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation would administer construction on the project. Below are blueprints for the preferred design.