Amtrak passenger rail service in new river valley by year 2020 news collegiatetimes.com american university egypt

“we’ve had a significant amount of population growth, even just over the past 10 years, so that alone can demonstrate a need for some new transportation options, such as rail,” said michael sutphin, blacksburg town council member, metropolitan planning organization board member and virginia tech alumnus.

“I think that one thing that’s really important is to understand that passenger rail is all across the country … and people are realizing it’s a safe and efficient mode of travel,” said larry hincker, associate vice president for university relations. “and considering the increasing congestion on 1-81, this just makes a lot of sense.”

“communities in northern virginia that have a metro stop … have had more growth and more economic benefits as a result of having that metro stop,” sutphin said. "Passenger rail in blacksburg is possible to have a similar effect on our community.”

“we think that virginia tech and particularly virginia tech students are an important demographic that will be using the rail,” hincker said. “it’s going to go right into washington D.C., and a huge percentage of students, close to 30 percent, are from the northern virginia area. George washington university ranking when you throw in suburban maryland just north of washington D.C., that (number) becomes even larger.”

“many employees of the university and people from this region travel to washington D.C.,” hincker said. “we believe it would be a great opportunity for us to travel to washington. Best universities of the world we have several facilities in the national capital region, and we think tech could use this on all facets, whether it’s university business or student travel.”

“the national capital region is fast becoming one of the nation’s tech hubs,” hincker said. “technology research and development and entrepreneurship are key factors for us here, and we really want to link what’s going on in blacksburg with the national capital region.”

"We’re doing a study to identify demand and evaluate potential stop locations … in the new river valley,” sharp said. “the types of things we’re looking for in demand are certainly population employment densities. American college greece we’re also looking at events as far as tourism that’s bringing folks to this area, what attracts folks to the region, and we’re also learning a lot from our survey.”

“(we are) utilizing local resources,” sharp said. “A study of this scale would probably cost about two to three times that amount, but because we have some local expertise in the area and a lot of support from our local communities we were able to do that study with the support, I would add, from the department of rail and public transportation (DRPT) and amtrak, so we were very fortunate.”

The total population in the NRV is approximately 180,000 people, whereas the metropolitan area accounts for about 100,000 of that population. There are about 40,000 students at both radford university and virginia tech that are counted in the region’s population as well.

“(this next study is) going to identify where the gaps are in infrastructure and also the staffing needs in order to provide that additional service,” sharp said. “that’s going to give our local DRPT and local stakeholders a firm understanding about what the cost of infrastructure would be and what the cost to provide the service would be, and then decide whether or not it would be a good fit for our community.”

“our local leadership is pushing for 2020 and that’s certainly an ambitious goal but I’m not sure that it’s unreasonable to think that it’s possible at this point in time,” sharp said. “it’s something that’s happening in a nearby community and it’s time for conversations at the local level to keep that momentum going.”