Project Plan

The Virginia Avenue Tunnel currently has a single track that accommodates one train at a time. The reconstruction will increase the tunnel width to install a second track and raise the height of the tunnel roof to make room for double-stack intermodal container trains.

This project will temporarily close a section of eastbound Virginia Avenue (south of I-695) while construction is underway. All cross streets will be open for the majority of the project to limit the disturbance to local residents. CSX has worked with local emergency responders, including the police and fire departments, to make sure that emergency vehicles can reach every resident at all times during construction.

Since 2011, CSX, the District Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration have been working through the rigorous National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to ensure that community impacts are understood, addressed and mitigated before any aspect of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project moves forward.

Through the federal process, we identified all potential environmental impacts and committed to providing appropriate mitigations. There are four basic elements to our approach to offset impacts: 1) modeling, to predict and develop plans to avoid impacts; 2) mitigations during constructions; 3) monitoring to be sure our plans are effective; and 4) modifying our approach, if we learn that they’re not.

The construction plan, which was chosen by the federal and D.C. governments, is the direct response to concerns that community members raised during the environmental review process:

  • Offers the shortest construction timeframe (approximately 30 to 42 months);
  • Operates trains in an enclosed tunnel in front of all residences;
  • Ensures all train operations during construction comply with the same Federal Railroad Administration safety standards that apply across CSX’s network;
  • Includes a fully fenced construction site with site security to enhance the safety of neighbors, children and pets;
  • Maintains access for residents and emergency responders to all homes and cross-streets during the entire construction process; and
  • Establishes a community office at 861 New Jersey Avenue SE staffed during regular hours with CSX representatives who can answer questions, address concerns and handle claims.

We know that construction will cause disruptions to some neighbors’ everyday routines, and we will implement measures to minimize them. The federal process requires significant actions and investments from CSX to limit impacts from construction.

CSX’s efforts to limit construction impacts include:

  • Limiting construction hours;
  • Controlling dust at the construction site to maintain air quality;
  • Reducing construction noise and vibration by creating physical barriers, choosing less noisy construction techniques, and monitoring noise and vibration levels throughout the community;
  • Working with District Department of Transportation to monitor and maintain traffic flow around the construction site to reduce impact; and
  • Compensation for residents directly next to the project and Virginia Avenue Tunnel neighborhood organizations, to provide resources that they can use to further minimize construction impacts as the residents and organizations choose.

VAT Reaches One-Year Construction Anniversary

May 2016 represents the one-year construction anniversary of the VAT project. CSX is proud of the progress we’ve made and we will continue to work hard to ensure the safety of the construction activity and rail operations through the site, to limit disturbances and to leave this great neighborhood even better than it is today. We look forward to continuing to work together with community members and our project partners as we build a better, safer Virginia Avenue Tunnel. Watch the video below to learn more about the progress we’ve made during our first year of construction.


Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project

The Virginia Avenue Tunnel currently accommodates a single train track that runs immediately beneath Virginia Avenue in southeast D.C. for approximately 3,800 feet. Trains enter and exit the tunnel from the west side near 2nd Street SE, and near 11th Street SE on the east side. The south portal portion of the work will join with the New Jersey Avenue Track Lowering project.

Project Photos

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CSX-VAT_Tunnel-Visions_5-24-16-2 ©CSX-VAT_Tunnel-Visions_5-24-16-2
CSX-VAT_Tunnel-Visions_5-17-16 ©CSX-VAT_Tunnel-Visions_5-17-16

Related Videos

Portal & Streetscape Video

Learn more about what the Virginia Avenue Tunnel will look like post-construction and how CSX is enhancing streetscapes, sidewalks and green spaces in the community.

Tunnel Construction Video

This phase-by-phase video walks you through the construction plans for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel between 3rd and 9th Streets, including estimated timing and impacts to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Construction Activities

CSX is committed to completing work safely and efficiently while minimizing disruption to our neighbors. We want to work with you throughout the construction process, and we will provide continual updates to the community about our progress.

  • Obtain construction permits including early-stage work permits (utility relocations, erosion and sediment control, Maintenance of Traffic)
  • Conduct preconstruction surveys
  • Installation of Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) measures
  • Relocate utility infrastructure (water, sewer, gas, electric, and telecommunications systems) in Phase I construction area
  • Mobilize construction staging area
  • Secure the construction site by temporarily closing Virginia Avenue and installing fencing
  • Implement and monitor performance of construction-related mitigation efforts
  • Implement Maintenance of Traffic Plan
  • Install Phase I temporary street decks to maintain traffic access across construction trenches
  • Remove existing surface features, such as paving and sidewalks, in the enclosed construction zone
  • Partial demolition of existing tunnel between 2nd and 3rd Streets
  • Construction of first new tunnel adjacent to south side of existing tunnel
  • Backfilling excavation to cover first new tunnel structure
  • Installation of track bed ballast, railroad tracks, railroad signals and communications equipment in first new tunnel
  • Open first new tunnel to train traffic
  • Continue to monitor performance of construction-related mitigation efforts
  • Continue to implement Maintenance of Traffic Plan
  • Install Phase II temporary street decks to maintain traffic access across construction trenches
  • Complete demolition of the existing tunnel
  • Construction of second new tunnel
  • Backfilling excavation for second new tunnel
  • Installation of track bed ballast, railroad tracks,  railroad signals and communications equipment in second new tunnel
  • Provide track connections for second new tunnel at both portals
  • Open second new tunnel to train traffic, tunnel construction complete
  • Remove temporary street decks
  • Restore permanent streets Restoration of Virginia Avenue, landscaping and installation of permanent fence for the USMC installation between 6th Street SE and 7th Street SE

Subcontracting and Employment Opportunities

The Virginia Avenue Tunnel Reconstruction project offers an array of business opportunities for pre-qualified subcontractors and suppliers, including CBE, disadvantaged, and minority- and woman-owned business enterprises. We are committed to exceeding the established voluntary goals for CBE participation on the project, with a keen focus on involving local and disadvantaged businesses.

Are you interested in working with us? If so, please take a moment to complete our Subcontractor Qualification Application.

Required for all subcontractors and suppliers, this application assists us in determining if your company is eligible to be included in our list of potential bidders for the VAT Project and future building and civil projects.

For additional information on doing business with the VAT project team, please fill out our form.