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After decades of complaints, a new rail authority could be the key to fixing Alexandria’s railroad bridges

For years, local first responders have been dispatched for worrying signs of decay at the CSX bridges over King Street and Commonwealth Avenue. Streets have been closed for emergency fixes and rail debris can regularly be found on the nearby streets and sidewalks. Finally, Mayor Justin Wilson said a new organization could help Alexandria address this problem.

In a newsletter where Wilson also addressed Holmes Run issues, Wilson also said there may be a way of getting the bridges back on track.

“For decades, the City has expressed concerns regarding the condition of the railroad bridges owned by CSX that cross King Street and Commonwealth Avenue near Alexandria’s Union Station,” Wilson wrote. “These bridges form part of a critical rail link for freight and passenger service through our City. Under the auspices of the new Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA), it is possible that these bridges may finally get a new look.”

The VPRA was created in 2020 is responsible for promoting, sustaining, and expanding the availability of passenger and commuter rail service in the Commonwealth, according to the VPRA website.

“The VPRA is a new entity that was created by the Commonwealth to preside over a massive expansion of rail infrastructure and service for the state,” Wilson wrote. “Earlier this year, the VPRA began a feasibility study to look at the future of these two rail bridges. This study is now on an accelerated timeline that assumes construction beginning as soon as 2024.”

Wilson said the VPRA’s study is currently soliciting input from the community, which could be Alexandria’s chance to make a ruckus about the crumbling bridges.

“The VPRA is seeking input from our community,” Wilson wrote. “Tomorrow evening at 6 p.m., VPRA is hosting a virtual meeting to provide more information on this study. Sign-up online to participate in this meeting. These railroad bridges are critical infrastructure for our community, but I am hopeful that this project will lead to aesthetic and functional improvements in support of our City.”

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