The plan to bring passenger rail service to Roanoke could now be one step closer to becoming a reality.
The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation is considering working with the city and other principalities involved to pick up half the tab on the expected $6 million culvert repair project. That move would save city taxpayers $3 million.
The culvert, which runs beneath the Norfolk Southern rail yard in downtown Roanoke, must be updated as part of the multimillion-dollar deal with the state to bring passenger trains back to the Star City.
"That's a very old culvert. It's about 100 years old, in fact, so it's going to have to integrate with the new rail system that's going into place to support passenger service," said Thelma Drake, the director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. "You can't have the track if that culvert won't support the weight of the train.
State leaders expect work to start in about a year.