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Fix to lengthen Burke passenger rail platform nears completion

A $5 million project to extend the platform for Virginia Railway Express’ Rolling Road Station is close to opening.

Crews have been finalizing the Burke project that began last year. Improvements include extending the existing 380-foot platform by 290 additional feet, VRE says on a project page.

While train service has continued during the upgrades, passengers must currently move to different cars for getting off longer eight-car trains, making stops there longer.

“The existing platform can handle five rail cars while the new, extended platform will be able to accommodate up to eight rail cars,” Karen Finucan Clarkson, a VRE public affairs administrator, wrote in an email.

The project is also rehabilitating an existing platform, replacing stairs and an existing canopy roof, and upgrading lighting and communications systems.

It should be complete this summer, according to Clarkson. The design follows similar projects that have extended platforms for its Broad Road, Burke Centre, Lorton, and Manassas Park stations.

The statewide commuter rail agency’s push to upgrade stations will continue this summer at a Fredericksburg station, Clarkson wrote.

“We have plans to lengthen the center platform at Alexandria, and platforms at the Brooke and Franconia-Springfield stations,” she said, noting that future projects include Backlick Road, Crystal City, Leeland Road, L’Enfant and Woodbridge.

VRE added longer trains to reflect projected ridership growth, but the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted those patterns. Prior to 2020, the railway averaged 20,000-plus riders, but now, it’s expected to average 8,000 daily riders in the coming fiscal year that starts July 1, InsideNoVa reported.

Meanwhile, staging equipment for the project at the Rolling Road Station will be removed to make way for a planned parking lot expansion.

Fairfax County said last June it plans to expand the free lot from 375 to 413 spaces, among other upgrades, with a $1.9 million project slated to begin this July.

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