Long Bridge replacement key to future growth, Virginia Railway Express says

Feature picture is the Long Bridge during the Civil War. WOW! I always talk about the Livingston Avenue Bridge in Albany that was started when Lincoln was President. The Long Bridge is OLDER.

A most interesting WebSite about this bridge (and all the bridges in Washington) was done by the National Railway Historical Society. This is the best authority and is really a MUST READ.

We recently wrote about railroads to the Pentagon and completely missed this article

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $2.8 million to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in Washington, D.C., to conduct an environmental study on the proposed replacement of the Long Bridge over the Potomac River. 

The study would analyze alternatives and the environmental effects of constructing a new bridge to increase capacity for freight and passenger railroads, and potentially other modes, such as bikes and pedestrians. Replacing the bridge is crucial to the Virginia Railway Express’ (VRE) System Plan 2040, according to a VRE press release.

“Expansion of the Long Bridge is the single greatest opportunity to add needed capacity to increase VRE’s operation from the 30 trains that use the bridge each day during peak commuting hours,” said VRE Chief Executive Officer Doug Allen.

A new bridge would be necessary for the railroad to consider expanding “run-through” service into Maryland, he added.

VRE officials plan to work with the DDOT and bridge owner CSX Transportation to determine the capacity and mix of modes the bridge needs to address and develop a plan to secure funding. Currently, the bridge is at 98 percent capacity during peak hours and is used by 56 passenger and 23 freight trains daily, VRE officials said.

By 2040, freight traffic on the bridge is expected to grow to 34 daily trains, while passenger train traffic is projected to rise to 132 daily trains, they added

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) in cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is completing a study on the Long Bridge, a two track railroad bridge that was constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The Long Bridge, owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX), carries traffic from three operators: CSX, Amtrak, and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE). The bridge, which crosses the Potomac River, is the only railroad bridge that connects the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.


The purpose of this project is to complete a comprehensive study of the Long Bridge to include identification of short-term needs and long-term capacity improvements, identify and analyze alternatives that meet the short-term and long-term multi-modal needs, and identify, collect, and evaluate data in support of the recommended improvements. Multi-modal needs includes analyzing future operating requirements of high-speed and intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, transit, bike and pedestrian, and freight services.

Finally, let’s try and explain the 14th Street Bridge complex.

The 14th Street bridge has 12 lanes on three separate bridges, a |4| |2-2| |4| arrangement. The 14th Street Bridge is in D.C.; the boundary is the Virginia shoreline. Just a couple hundred yards downstream of the highway bridges, is the 2-track WMATA Metrorail Yellow Line bridge (opened April 30, 1983), and the 2-track CSX Transportation railroad bridge, which carries freight trains, Amtrak trains, and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter trains. The WMATA bridge is named the Charles R. Fenwick Bridge, and the CSXT bridge is named the Long Bridge.


14th Street Bridge complex, looking from D.C. into Virginia, with Jefferson Memorial in foreground. From left to right, respectively, the 5 spans are railroad, WMATA Metrorail, highway northbound, highway express, and highway southbound. The series of high-rise buildings in the distance is Crystal City, and the north end of Washington National Airport is visible at the left upper part of the photo. A Yellow Line train is visible in the center of the Metrorail bridge. This photo came from the July 1983 Metro Memo Tabloid magazine, published by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)

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