Fairfax County seeks help relocating sewers affected by Franconia-Lorton rail project

Sanitary sewers that would be impacted by a third VRE rail line between Franconia and Lorton (via Fairfax County)

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has asked CSX Transportation to share the load when it comes to moving sewer infrastructure affected by its plans for a third passenger rail line connecting Franconia and Lorton.

Last week, the board unanimously approved a letter to the North American rail company urging it to assist with relocating several sanitary sewers at risk of contamination during the construction of the Virginia Railway Express rail line.

The decision followed a review of initial design plans by county staff, which revealed the proposed rail line would intersect with four sanitary sewer crossings.

According to Chairman Jeff McKay, who wrote the letter, the sewers serve roughly 30,000 residents in Lorton, Newington, Springfield and Franconia and provide wastewater services to non-residential facilities, including the Franconia Metro station, Springfield Town Center, the Lorton Workhouse, and five Fairfax County public schools.

The Pohick and Accotink Creek floodplains and wetlands could also be affected by the rail project and sewer relocations, McKay’s letter says.

The rail project, which aims to reduce congestion in the region by expanding rail service between Fredericksburg and D.C., is scheduled to begin construction this fall.

However, Fairfax County officials estimate that relocating the sewers independently could take about five years. Consequently, the supervisors have asked CSX to include sewer relocation in its broader rail project to streamline the process.

“Having one construction contractor responsible for both the sewer relocations and the associated railroad construction not only ensures that both sets of critical infrastructure are maintained, but also that the contractor would have the necessary resources to protect human health and the environment from any sanitary sewer emergencies that may occur during construction,” the letter states.

The county has committed to funding the sewer relocations, provided the designs adhere to its standards.

The supervisors plan to meet with railroad representatives in June to discuss the county’s concerns further, the letter says.