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The railroad company that owns a line around the eastern shore of Virginia is petitioning to abandon the route. The move has officials wondering what they want to do with the land.
Canonie Atlantic Company currently operates the 49.1-mile stretch of track that includes a car float operation from Cape Charles to Norfolk, Va. Cassatt Management LLC, representing Canonie, plans to file a petition to walk away from the line. The 40-ft-wide stretch runs parallel to Route 13 in most places. Canonie has been leasing the track to Bay Coast Railroad, which has not operated on it since April 30, 2018.
Cassatt will file an environmental and historic report on or after July 15. In the meantime officials are trying to figure out the next steps once the land officially becomes vacant. The Canonie Atlantic board wants to partner and place the line in the rails-to-trails program.
Donald Hart Jr., who chairs both the Accomack-Northampton Transportation Commission and the Canonie Atlantic board, wants to try and keep working segments of the rail active, but says the move will require a lot of maintenance. “We can’t afford to keep maintaining something that is not being used,” he said.
Canonie believes the land is perfect for the rails-to-trails program because the right-of-way is flat and relatively straight.
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