CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- House Finance Chairman Brent Boggs, D-Braxton, called Thursday for the State Rail Authority to study the feasibility of commuter rail service between Charleston and Huntington.
"It seems that one of the most logical places for light rail, commuter rail, would be the Charleston-Huntington corridor," said Boggs, a railroad engineer.
Cindy Butler, executive director of the Rail Authority, said the new State Rail Plan recommends such a feasibility study.
She said the plan is based on requests and recommendations gathered during 16 public hearings around the state, and among requests for additional commuter rail service, Charleston-Huntington was the most requested service.
"What the plan does is put the ideas out there, what the public wants," she said.
Currently, the only commuter rail service in West Virginia is MARC rail service from Martinsburg, Duffields and Harpers Ferry to Washington, D.C., operated by the Maryland Transit Administration.
Boggs said commuter rail would be a less-expensive alternative to constructing additional lanes on Interstate 64 between Charleston and Huntington to handle traffic congestion.
"For people who have to drive I-64 in either direction, its such a bottleneck," he said. "We may have to look at another solution to free up congestion on I-64."
Butler said finding funding obviously would be a key issue in developing the commuter service.
Other proposals or study topics in the Rail Plan include expansion of the Amtrak Cardinal route to daily service, upgrading the Prince station to handle increased numbers of passengers traveling to and from the nearby Boy Scout Summit Bechtel Reserve, and developing a new multi-modal passenger terminal in Charleston.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.