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PNS Daily Newscast - August 12, 2020 

Former VP Joe Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate; some schools have science-based metrics for open classroom instruction.

2020Talks - August 12, 2020 

California Sen. Kamala Harris will be on the ticket with Joe Biden in November. Four states had primaries yesterday, and two had runoffs. Georgia and Wisconsin appear to have improved since last time.

Federal $8 (B) Billion-Dollar Rail Plan Could Connect Va. Communities

April 17, 2009

Richmond - A federal plan to pour $8 billion into a world-class passenger rail system throughout the East Coast could result in an economic boom for Virginia's urban crescent, ease traffic, and dramtically reduce energy consumption in the state. That prediction comes from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a nonprofit organization that promotes public transit to foster environmentally friendly growth patterns.

Stewart Schwartz, the Coalition's executive director, says the federal plan launches a competitive process for local communities to develop rail lines. Virginia has an advantage over many states, says Schwartz, because of existing plans for a rail system that would shorten the trip between Richmond and Washington. With increased federal support, that project could expand across the state, he adds.

"It's a unique opportunity to knit together Virginia's urban crescent - between Washington, Fredericksburg, Richmond and Hampton Roads. That's 60 percent or more of Virginia's population and 60 percent or more of Virginia's gross state product."

The level of federal commitment to rail currently being planned is unprecedented, says Schwartz.

"The advantages for Virginians are huge in terms of reductions in traffic and energy use, fighting climate change, and increasing economic competitiveness. It would be terrific for the downtown ares within each jurisdiction along the route, and it might even allow for additional areas of transit-oriented development."

Critics say the U.S. is facing too many economic challenges to expand rail lines at this time. The Obama administration says expanding rail service would increase job opportunities and bring more money to state budgets. Proponents say this section of Virginia experiences the heaviest traffic in the state.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA