Findings from the study for possible commuter rail expansion into the western half of Prince William County determined that while adding stations to the Gainesville-Haymarket area would result in an increase in VRE ridership, it would do so at a high project cost. In the spring of 2017, VRE’s Operations Board unanimously adopted their preferred alternative to the Gainesville-Haymarket Extension plan: The Broad Run Expansion.
The Broad Run Expansion project involves several elements including:
According to prior findings, there is an estimated demand for about 2,000 parking spaces at Broad Run, where there are currently approximately 1,100 spaces. VRE hopes to provide parking in surface lots or structured parking that would result in up to a maximum quarter mile walk to and from the platform entrance. A portion of the additional parking may be proposed on the north side of the tracks which would require providing a pedestrian tunnel or bridge to the platform.
The Broad Run Yard has the capability of providing locomotive and rail car maintenance and repairs in the yard and in the Service and Inspection building. Yard expansion involves upgrading VRE’s Manassas Line equipment storage facility. The existing yard will be extended to accommodate longer train sets with the goal for all train sets to be eight-car trains. Additional storage tracks will be added in the future with other potential yard modifications, as well as service expansion plans reflecting VRE’s 2040 System Plan so that the Broad Run maintenance and storage facility will be able to house the larger fleet of passenger cars.
Addition of a Third Mainline Track
The existing station track at Broad Run will also be altered to accommodate the additional rail needed for an upgraded storage facility. A new parallel Norfolk Southern (NS) Railroad track will be built within the railroad right-of-way as much as possible, on the Broad Run complex side of the tracks. The track will begin near the Service and Inspection building, serve the VRE Broad Run Station platform, extend to the east almost to Manassas, and then connect back to the Norfolk Southern main line. This additional track will allow flexibility for Norfolk Southern operations.
Expansion of the storage facility tracks may also require modification to the location of the existing station platform. The platform would be located on the third mainline track, within the existing Norfolk Southern right-of-way where possible. The platform length will optimize the service to the longer eight-car trains.
VRE also plans to address potential improvements to neighboring roads used to access the station in hopes of improving accessibility or mitigating traffic.
The project is currently in the schematic design phase of planning in which studies of the individual and combined elements has taken place. Two concepts will continue to be studied in the next phase of study on which environmental impacts will be addressed.