HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Hanover County residents had one last chance Wednesday night to comment on a high-speed rail project that would go through Ashland.
The meeting, held at Patrick Henry High School was packed.
Residents gathered to express their concerns in a civil manner, most of them opposed the project. Some said the rail project threatens homes, businesses and ruins Ashland’s appeal.
“It’s just not going to be the same town…and that’s what we’re trying to be up against,” said one resident.
The DC2RVA rail line would connect Richmond to Washington DC.
“More tracks would damage our homes, disrupt our lives and harm the futures of our children,” another resident said.
The project presents two possible options: a route through town, meaning three tracks would be built in an underground trench; or have tracks bypass the west side of town.
William Stanley, who lives in Ashland, opposes the new Federal project.
“Take away the land, plus the value of the land will just drop,” he said. “who would want the land upside of a railroad track?”
Stanley, who has lived in the area for years said the project is also bad news for farmland.
“We been farming now all our life and our parents’ life as well and if this railroad comes through, it could split everything in half and the farm is a century farm at that. And we’d just hat to see it destroyed,” Stanley said.
Town officials recently passed the resolution to consider the underground trench option.
But residents say construction would impact property values and hurt local businesses.
“Surrounding rural areas are not what they are without having Ashland as kind of a gathering place and commercial center,” Rachel Levy, who lives in Ashland said.
Randolph-Macon College’s president Robert Lindgren stood as one of the few in support of one of the options.
“We support the western bypass because it will eliminate safety concerns and preserve the college’s future,” Lindgren said.
Construction is slated to take about three years and would impact nearly 60 homes.
Three other public hearings are planned for next week in Alexandria, Fredericksburg and Quantico.
Anyone can share their concerns by phone or email until Nov. 7. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation can be reached at 804-786-4440