Ashland is a special place. This welcoming and historic community truly is the Center of the Universe to its residents and businesses.

But we are at risk.

Plans to add a third rail through the center of town would irreparably scar our community, destroying our businesses, homes and disrupting our way of life.

Stand up for the only option that will protect our town: the Western Bypass.

Ashland is a special place. This welcoming and historic community truly is the Center of the Universe to its residents and businesses.

But we are at risk.

Plans to add a third rail through the center of town would irreparably scar our community, destroying our businesses, homes and disrupting our way of life.

Stand up for the only option that will protect our town: the Western Bypass.

ABOUT THE ISSUE

The Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation (DRPT) and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) are seeking public comment before making a final recommendation to federal transportation officials on which option to choose.

What options are Virginia transportation officials considering?

Virginia's Department of Rail and Public Transportation has proposed many options to expand passenger rail service and reduce freight congestion in the Ashland-Hanover region, as part of a larger study of the DC to Richmond corridor. But ultimately only two alternatives remain under serious consideration:

  1. A WESTERN BYPASS: an option that would bypass the town to the west; or
  2. THREE TRACKS THROUGH DOWNTOWN: an option that would add an additional third track through downtown Ashland, either at-grade or within a trench

There is only viable option for the Town of Ashland: the Western Bypass.

Why is the Western Bypass the best option for Downtown Ashland?

The Western Bypass is least impactful to the Town of Ashland, and the least impactful, period.

This option would allow for the construction of two tracks west of town, disturbing far fewer people, homes, and businesses, while still meeting DRPT’s goal of providing improved rail service in the region.

This option will preserve Ashland’s downtown, its train station and have the least impact on its many businesses, historic local homes and Randolph-Macon College.

Why is a three-track option not an option for Downtown Ashland?

Constructing additional tracks through downtown Ashland would affect life in town for possibly decades, impacting hundreds of residents, businesses, first responders, college students and faculty and tourists. It would also mean the closure of the Town’s train station for good. There are several reasons why a three-track option, whether at-grade or within a trench, is devastating for the town, including:

#1: It will destroy Ashland’s economy

With all the construction that would take place with a three-track option and the uncertainty around when that construction would actually take place, it puts the town in serious economic jeopardy. The looming cloud of construction in the years and decades leading up to it will lead to businesses shuttering, new families not moving into town, and current residents leaving.

Across the country, other communities have been devastated by major construction projects in their downtown. Norfolk, Virginia businesses saw sales plummet by 20-62% along a road construction project lasting more than two years. St. Paul, Minnesota's construction of a light rail line down an active city street resulted in 110 businesses closing or relocating. For those that stayed, sales dropped 36% during the height of construction. Salado, Texas saw 82 of 127 businesses close after a road construction project blocked access to their once-vibrant downtown.

Tourism dollars will dry up, as visitors avoid our version of the "big dig."

Ashland’s downtown cannot afford construction of a third track downtown. It’s a risk simply not worth taking, especially when an option exists that would cause little to no adverse economic impact to the town: the Western Bypass.

#2: It’s A Huge Disruption to Families, Traffic, and Businesses

With a thee-track option, virtually all of downtown Ashland would become a major construction zone, causing painful disruption for years.

The construction would not be phased – the entire downtown will be ripped up for most of the construction period. We will see heavy truck traffic, noise, and dust along Center Street for years on end. Many property owners will experience limited access to their property. Traffic issues will impact residents, commuters, first responders, and businesses. These disruptions have yet to be fully examined, so questions remain on the exact and lasting impact they’ll have on the town.

#3: It Could Cost Taxpayers Millions

Specifically, the three-track trench option, the one that has been studied the least, is estimated to cost taxpayers into the hundreds of millions. The exact cost isn’t known. But we know it will be expensive to dig three tracks through the heart of Ashland, and the additional costs associated with years-long environmental studies and economic impact studies that would have to take place before that construction could happen.

#4: It Hasn’t Been Properly Studied

The three-track trench proposal is too new. DRPT’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC) first learned of this option on August 25, it was publicly presented on August 28, and the group was asked to consider it as an option by September 8. Previously, other underground options have been rejected due to cost and logistical challenges presented. With such little time for public consideration, this option needs more time to be studied properly.


The Western Bypass has been studied at length, repeatedly vetted, was included as an option by both DRPT initially and the CAC, and the public has had multiple opportunities to share their views on this option.

It's clearly the right option for the Ashland region.

The best option for Ashland, and the one that would best meet the needs of our growing rail service while protecting the local economy, is the Western Bypass.

It presents the least economic and environmental questions, impacts the fewest citizens, and preserves the local economy for decades to come.

YOUR VOICE MATTERS: ACT NOW

Sending a message to Virginia’s transportation leaders is easy. Please use the form below to contact them today.

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I respectfully request that you oppose constructing more train tracks through downtown Ashland.

Ashland's economy cannot afford construction of a third track downtown.

Randolph-Macon College has been in Ashland for nearly 150 years. The College is growing every year in number of students and facilities. Today, the College has residential, academic, and athletic facilities on both sides of the existing two tracks. A third track would significantly endanger the College’s nearly 1,500 students, over 400 faculty and staff, and tens of thousands of annual visitors. The Western Bypass would preserve the College’s future and its safety.

The town will see increased construction traffic, property owners may experience limited access to their property, and traffic issues will impact visitors, commuters, first responders, and businesses.

The full costs to taxpayers for a three-track trench is unknown, but estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Far more study on the economic, environmental, and residential costs of three-track option through downtown Ashland is needed.

I support preserving the unique character of downtown Ashland while meeting the increased demands for passenger and freight rail.

I ask that you please support the Western Bypass, the best solution for our community. It remains the least destructive and most fiscally prudent solution for the Ashland-Hanover Region.

Thank you for your leadership on this issue!

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