National passenger railroad operator Amtrak has initiated what it calls “early construction activities” associated with its $6 billion B&P Tunnel Replacement Program.
[Above photo by Amtrak]
That work includes replacing aging wooden ties with new concrete ties, installing new rail, and completing track drainage improvements in the Halethorpe and West Baltimore areas in Maryland.
At nearly 150 years in age, the Baltimore and Potomac or B&P Tunnel – which will renamed the Frederick Douglass Tunnel once the rebuild is complete – is Amtrak’s oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor and is often a choke point both for its trains and those operated by the Maryland Area Regional Commuter or MARC system.
Amtrak added that the 1.4-mile tunnel, connecting Baltimore to Washington, D.C., suffers from a variety of age-related issues such as excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure and delays that impact more than 10 percent of its weekday trains.
“This initial project will directly reduce impacts during later construction phases and maximize the benefits of the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel with higher track speeds and greater system capacity,” said Laura Mason, Amtrak’s executive vice president-capital delivery, in a statement.
“Our partners at the Federal Railroad Administration recognize the importance and urgency of this project and have provided $8 million in key funding to help us complete this critical infrastructure work,” she noted.
This project – which is also funded by a grant from the fiscal year 2019 Federal-State Partnership for the State of Good Repair Program and monies from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – includes upgrades to enable high‐speed train operation on all four tracks along this track segment.
“The collaboration between the state of Maryland, Amtrak, our federal partners and Baltimore is making the long-awaited replacement of the B&P Tunnel a reality,” said Paul Wiedefeld, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“This initial work by Amtrak is laying the foundation for the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, and will help us improve mobility, access and service for riders throughout the region,” he added.