An official with Union Pacific confirmed that its real-estate team was working in the area, hoping to procure land for an expansion to the existing railroad bridge.
Mark Davis, a spokesman for Union Pacific, confirmed that the company has been making inquiries to property owners in the area on both sides of the river, but said the bridge design remains unfinished, so a timeline cannot be established.
“We continue to work forward on this project,” Davis said. “It’s a very important and high priority project for us.”
Ultimately, Union Pacific hopes to restructure the bridge to make the waterway more accessible.
The bridge, constructed over a century ago, has been hit several times over the last few years. Regulations require a 300-foot minimum opening, but the bridge currently only opens to 177 feet.
The United States Coast Guard is responsible with enforcement throughout the country’s waterways, so any redesign efforts on the railroad bridge would require their input. Davis said that Union Pacific had been working with the Coast Guard.
Replacement of the bridge has become a priority project for area officials over the past year. The potential project was one of the items discussed at the Mayor’s Annual D.C. Summit earlier this year. Supporters for the expansion cite the potential for economic development in the area, and even national security benefits resulting from a clear waterway as reasons for the project.
Property transfer records don’t show any purchases by Union Pacific in the past several months.