A seat at the table

Published 6:51 pm Monday, July 12, 2010

There’s an old proverb that professes, “The early bird gets the worm.” And if that proves true, then Suffolk is in the running to land a pretty nice worm when it comes to a proposed passenger rail line.

Last week, the Suffolk City Council passed a resolution to ask the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to consider placing a passenger rail stop in Suffolk on the proposed high-speed rail line that is being touted to connect Hampton Roads and Petersburg.

Recently, more than $93 million was set aside by the state to build the passenger rail service along the Route 460 corridor. The money would be used for improvements to the existing Norfolk Southern lines to allow passenger trains to run along the tracks.

Say what you will about many decisions by the City Council — and we’ve said plenty — but the resolution suggests the city has tremendous foresight into a project that could mean much for the city.

True, the romantic days of railway commutes across the country in luxury dining and sleeping cars might be a thing of the past, but rail travel would offer yet another connection between Suffolk and points north, south, east and west. And if plans for the project come to fruition, this rail line could open up travel corridors throughout the East Coast.

A stop at a depot in Suffolk would further develop the city’s profitable tourism industry and have a tremendous impact on the local economy.

There are plenty of miles yet to travel between this resolution and any stop becoming a reality, but the City Council and other city leaders should be applauded for taking the initiative to ensure Suffolk is at least part of the discussion.

With an infrastructure and development pie the size of $93 million, there’s plenty of room at the table and plenty of slices to go around.