Governor Northam signs legislation allowing for NRV Passenger Rail Authority

Published: Mar. 27, 2021 at 6:19 PM EDT
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NEW RIVER VALLEY, Va. (WDBJ) - In the New River Valley, the extension of a passenger rail is now one step closer to becoming a reality. Governor Northam just signed new legislation into law that will create a rail authority in the NRV.

The NRV has been working more than six years to bring passenger rail to the area. The spokesperson for the New River Valley Passenger Rail Initiative, Larry Hincker, said there are many reasons.

“Some of the most successful places have been right here in Virginia ... There’s been a resurgence in desire for passenger rail traffic ... Here in the New River Valley, we have a huge, huge percentage of university students coming to Radford and VIrginia Tech coming from outside of the region.”

An expansion of the passenger rail in this area is now on the right track. Friday, Governor Northam signed the Passenger Rail Bill, sponsored by Delegate Chris Hurst and Senator John Edwards.

“What this is, is enabling legislation that will allow us to form an authority,” Hincker explained. That authority will build and run a station platform.

Hincker said the NRV does not have a municipal organization large enough in the area to run a platform, so this authority is a necessary piece.

“It gives us a legal mechanism to actually run a train station. It is one of the many steps that we’ve had along the way to get us from point A to point B to point C and hopefully point D, E or F is the point in which we actually have a passenger rail service,” he said.

The next big step is for Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation and the Department of Rail and Public Transportation to negotiate with Norfolk Southern and come to an agreement to use their rail lines.

“You’re beginning to see the vision crystalize,” Hincker said.

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