The reality of a high-speed rail system connecting Richmond with Washington and Charlotte, N.C., is still uncertain, but local officials are pushing forward with plans nonetheless.
Officials say that the uncertainty over where stations will go, what will happen to railroad crossings, where trains will stop and, most importantly, where the funding will come from is no reason to put off planning.
"A lot of this is going to be dictated by what happens next," said Petersburg City Manager William E. Johnson III, who is working on plans for a possible new station in his city.
And on Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation will unveil revised plans for Chesterfield County railroad crossings.
At the public meeting, which follows a briefing for county officials, residents will get a chance to see plans for the work that could be done at several locations across Chesterfield.
The plan calls for 162 miles of rail that will extend faster passenger servicefrom Washington through Virginia to Charlotte.
The Richmond-Raleigh portion will need to include nearly 100 new bridges and overpasses that are to be combined with existing spans.
According to a report released last year on the Southeast High Speed Rail project, as it is known, the work is "needed for reliability, safety, capacity and congestion management, and (to) facilitate the overall higher-speed rail system."
Thelma D. Drake, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, said the proposed work would improve performance and would make it possible to bring in more freight and passenger volume. It would also allow for higher speeds -- a maximum of 79 to 90 mphin Chesterfield County.
But the actual work could still be a long way off.
Drake said that the Federal Railroad Administration is expected to issue a record of decision in the summer of 2014 which "outlines next steps to implement recommendations."
And then, of course, the money to pay for the project needs to be raised.
The portion of track from Main Street Station in Richmond south to Collier Yard in Petersburg is estimated to cost $469 million.
"Virginia and North Carolina will pursue funding for the project when the (environmental impact statement) process is complete and the project is eligible for funding," Drake said.
She said it is "too early to say what Virginia's share of the costs would be to construct the corridor segment in Virginia."
Before the funding is in place, there are several decisions that need to be made. One of those is the matter of the disputed Ettrick station near Virginia State University in Chesterfield.
The Department of Rail and Public Transportation is looking at whether it would make more sense to keep the Ettrick station or move it to Collier Yard in Petersburg.
Losing the train station could seriously hinder Chesterfield's plans and those of the 130-year-old university, which is based in Ettrick.
The historically black university plans to doubleenrollment by 2020 to more than 10,000 students.
Chesterfield Supervisor Steve A. Elswick, who represents the Matoaca District, said the station would play an essential role in the university's transformation.
"It's the vision of the county, and that of the college, that it will become a small VCU and transform Ettrick the way VCU has transformed Richmond," he said. "The train station is an integral part of that."
Thomas Reed, a spokesman for VSU, said the school is working with Amtrak and the county to keep the station. He said the station is "is critical to VSU's expansion plans."
"Many of our students rely on rail service, and as we recruit even more heavily from Tidewater, with that area's new rail access, having a convenient station, less than a half-mile from campus is certainly part of our marketing strategy," Reed said.