Thursday, the Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation said the lawsuit brought by opponents has caused delays, and cost Norfolk Southern a major customer. Thelma Drake said supporters could "jump start" the project by helping Norfolk Southern find new customers for the facility.
"From an economic development standpoint for the region, who are the customers that they could help bring to the table," she asked. "That would help it open much, much quicker."
Drake made the comments during a luncheon organized by the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. She told local leaders the state continues to work with the railroad, and she said Norfolk Southern continues to consider the economics. A ruling by the Supreme Court of Virginia cleared the way for state funding, but opposition to the project continues.