FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 9, 2010)-Fort Lee is implementing a plan for safer transportation for troops who routinely train at Fort A.P. Hill.
The increase of military forces in training here as a result of Base Realignment and Closure will mean additional buses and tractor trailers traveling I-95 to transport them to Fort A.P. Hill for ranges and field exercises.
According to projections, this increase will have between 19 and 25 buses, plus two tractor trailers for cargo, making the weekly 150-mile round trip on an already busy stretch of interstate and rural highway.
This additional volume of traffic along I-95 is a safety concern for Army leadership, not only for the Soldiers but for the public as well. Given the concern for safe execution of training, a research study was conducted to determine the feasibility of rail transport as a substitute for busing.
According to data published by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Federal Railroad Administration, rail transport between the two locations does offer profound advantages.
By removing the large number of convoys from Virginia highways, trains will prove to be a safer means of transportation for Soldiers and will result in safer use of I-95 and adjoining routes for the general public. It is also comparable in cost to the large convoys of buses and semi-trailers currently used, according to the study.
Once this initiative is implemented, the convoy would be replaced by an Army-owned, six- to 10-car passenger train. Two advance party buses would be used to shuttle troops from the train yard in Milford to the A.P Hill training areas.
The passenger train, which will be home-stationed at Fort Lee, will be a chartered, Special Movement Train operated under contract to the Army by Amtrak. An average of 800 passengers (high of 1,100) will be transported to Fort A. P. Hill and returned to Fort Lee approximately 40 times a year (roughly three times a month).
The train will off-load and park at one of several privately-owned sites under consideration in the vicinity of Milford. Current plans are for the train to depart Fort Lee in the afternoon and arrive in Milford the same day. Passengers will be transported by shuttle buses from the rail site to Fort A. P. Hill. The train will remain at the Milford rail yard until training ends four or five days later. At that time, the shuttle buses will return the Soldiers to the train for the trip back to Lee. All storage, refueling and replenishment services will be conducted here.
The final Milford site will serve as the passenger drop-off point and train parking area. No refueling or major repairs will be conducted there. Small emergency repairs, such as light bulb changes or fluid replacement may be done on the Milford site.
Fort Lee will be the “home” station where refueling and routine maintenance will be accomplished. Major maintenance will be conducted off site at one of several maintenance facilities that are currently in operation for such purposes.
The Army conducted a comprehensive study of potential air quality and overall environmental impacts and confirmed they were negligible for this proposed action. All projections and analyses comply fully with the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Furthermore, the Army anticipates environmental benefits from the rail service to include reductions in acid-rain pollutants, fuel usage and ozone-forming chemicals. The latter will be accomplished through advanced coatings systems for rail cars, ozone-friendly refrigerants and fewer ozone depleting chemicals.