The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB) was briefed on the 10 critical freight rail and road projects affecting the metropolitan Washington region according to the TPB’s Freight Subcommittee, a group of local and state transportation officials and freight industry representatives. Freight traffic is forecast to increase by 66 percent, about 400 million tons and 151% in value. Over the next 30 years trucks will account for about 90 percent by both weight and value shipped. This will put a strain on rail, road, and air capacity as global shipping patterns affect the Southeastern United States.
With the growth of the regional economy and the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014, the movement of goods and its impact on traffic will be felt throughout the region. The DC region sits at the crux of rail corridors for both CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads and will experience increased freight traffic cutting across the country in addition to goods being shipped into and through the Capital.
The TPB was given a list of 10 funded and unfunded projects that can lessen existing and future road and rail congestion, including new truck parking and rail expansion, which could also increase commuter rail capacity and connectivity along with tunnel upgrades. In Virginia, for example, the list included widening Route 606 to improve access to Dulles Airport as a short-term project. In Maryland, the group identified highway congestion relief along I-70 between Baltimore and Frederick as a long-term project. In the District of Columbia, the Virginia Avenue Tunnel will remove a major chokepoint on the movement of freight rail.
Updating the existing Long Bridge, which spans the Potomac River between Arlington County and the District of Columbia, would allow for extra capacity for freight and passenger rail as well as the potential for vehicular, pedestrian, light rail, and bicycle movement. A District of Columbia Department of Transportation study funded by the Federal Railroad Administration examined six such alternatives to upgrading the Long Bridge, which is ranked as “adequate” in terms of structural safety and saw its last upgrade in the 1940s: the bridge is over 100 years old.
The complete list of these projects as well as the full presentations before the Board can be found here.