This progress is because North Carolina is bloody amazing on rail. They are the most pro-passenger-rail state in the nation, and their Department of Rail -- with full government support -- has been basically pushing SEHSR continuously, and almost singlehandedly, for years. Virginia has sort of been dragged along in their wake! The Virginia-end upgrades which have actually been funded are mainly being made for the benefit of the commuter service, VRE, but the SEHSR people have managed to integrate plans with VRE so that the VRE upgrades will be suitable to provide capacity and speed for the future HSR.
Meanwhile, NC has taken the lead in doing the studies even for the Virginia portion of the track from Raleigh to Richmond. Their stated intent is to design the rebuilt line to the highest feasible track speeds which don't require massive extra civil engineering. The target of 110mph max is planned largely because of train equipment and signalling -- but they want the line to be ready for future speed increases. Don't be fooled; 110 is an interim goal for the far-seeing NC Department of Rail, not a final goal. It was decided (probably correctly) that a good track alignment was priority one, and they've been pouring money into curve straightening even on the currently-operating segments like the NCRR.
Unfortunately service from Fredericksburg to Richmond to Petersburg is sort of getting the short end of the stick -- largely designed, just unfunded by Virginia -- and I'd be surprised if Virginia actually ponied up its full share of the money for the Petersburg-NC border segment, barring a change of government. I think NC, unlike some states, is legally able to spend some of its money on the other side of the border, so they may do so (better connections from NC to Virginia and DC give more value to NC than to Virginia).