Amtrak is ready to start early construction works as part of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program.
The first project kicked off on Friday, March 10, in the Halethorpe and West Baltimore areas. The work contains replacing ageing wooden ties with new concrete ties, completing track drainage improvements, and installing new rail.
Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery Laura Mason stated: “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.”
She continued: “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. We are also grateful to Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and the state of Maryland for their partnership and support.”
This project is financed by a grant from the FY 2019 Federal-State Partnership for the State of Good Repair Program. These advancements will allow high‐speed operations on all four tracks along this track segment.
Maryland Transportation Secretary, Paul J. Wiedefeld, said: “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,”
“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.”
The track and tie replacement overnight work will be done on Track A from Winans to Bridge interlockings and is not anticipated to affect rail service. The Bridge interlocking is located north of West Baltimore Station, while Winans interlocking is at the south end of Halethorpe Station.
This first phase of the project is declared to be finished early this summer, with further project work associated with the current turnout replacement in Winans with a new high-speed turnout in a future phase.
At almost 150 years old, the B&P Tunnel is Amtrak’s oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor and a single point of failure for both MARC and Amtrak trains.
The 1.4-mile tunnel linking Baltimore to Washington, D.C., suffers from various age-related problems like extreme water infiltration, a deteriorating structure and delays that affect over 10% of weekday trains.
Amtrak and its partners will eventually progress the $6 billion scheme by utilising federal funding delivered by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The scheme includes many investment projects to build new bridges, rail systems and tracks, an ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station and the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, which will contain two new high-capacity tubes for electrified passenger trains.