Yesterday, Congressman Rob Wittman, Supervisor Nancy Long, and Port Royal Mayor Jim Heinbach toured the Museums (with our wonderful tour guides Cookie and John Davis) and fishing pier in Port Royal. These museums are small, but they are packed full of history, as is the town of Port Royal. There wasn’t a plant or piece of floating fauna the Congressman couldn’t name, reminding me that our Congressman was a fellow Virginia Tech grad and biology major, not to mention a PHD from VCU.
After a delicious lunch at the historic Horne’s Restaurant at the corner of Route 301 and Route 17, Congressman Wittman and Supervisor Nancy Long proceeded to the Community Center in Bowling Green, Virginia, for a public Q&A regarding Governor McAuliffe’s plan to carve new freight rail lines through Caroline County, crushing property values and potentially separating farmers from their farms.
Not only has the Caroline County Board of Supervisors passed resolutions rejecting the project study, Congressman Wittman has also reached out to the DRPT (The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation) arguing that this project is detrimental to several counties in his congressional district.
Apparently, the DRPT received grant money for expanding “High Speed Rail” and now has to figure out a way to spend this money. The problem with their Caroline and Hanover plans is that, first, these will not actually be high speed rails at all, and secondly it will not actually alleviate traffic on I95. In truth, these new lines will serve CSX Freight Trains.
The rail lines are owned by CSX. I just read the eminent domain laws governing the Commonwealth of Virginia and I can find no provision for the Commonwealth taking property through eminent domain on behalf of a private company. Any attempt to take property from Caroline County residents on behalf of CSX Freight will likely end up in court for years. Whether or not the railroad’s freight business can be treated as a public utility is only an after thought compared to the damage caused by the Governor’s studies.
Realtors are required to search for studies which could affect property values. If DRPT so much as files an environmental study on behalf of these proposed rail lines, property values across Caroline, Hanover, Spotslyvania, and Stafford Counties would be permanently affected. Residents living near any of the proposed rail routes will see their property values decline dramatically.
While Congressman Wittman, the Caroline, Stafford, and Hanover Board of Supervisors, and the Town of Ashland are all fighting valiantly against the completion of these studies across our counties, none of them have any power over the Governor, nor the Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. Congressman Wittman named Secretary Layne as the proper point of contact for residents worried about the devastating affect his rail studies will have on their property values.
Secretary Aubrey Layne
Office of the Secretary of Transportation
Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
view directions to the office…
For regular U.S. mail, please use the following address:
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218
Fax Line: (804) 786-6683
However, Secretary Aubrey Layne answers directly to our Governor, who is ultimately responsible for ensuring that his government doesn’t stomp on the lives and property of his constituents. I guarantee that no one in Caroline County who voted for Governor McAuliffe suspected the Governor would try to build a railroad through their backyard on behalf of a wealthy railroad company.
- Governor Terry McAuliffe
Common Ground for Virginia
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218
- Email the Governor
It would also help to contact your State Senators (Richard Stewart and Ryan McDougle) as well as your Delegates (Fowler, Ransone, and Orrock).
Understand that this isn’t just about the rail being built. The completion of any study for the recommendation of a railroad through Caroline County will have detrimental effects on your property values for years.