Replacing 150-Year Old Baltimore And Potomac Tunnel Will Create 30,000 Good-Paying Jobs And Address Largest Rail Bottleneck Between Washington, D.C and New Jersey
Continued Focus On Implementing Game-Changing Infrastructure Projects Including Brent Spence Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, and Gateway Hudson Tunnel Project in New York
Continuing the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on implementing its economic agenda to deliver real results for the American people, President Biden is traveling to Baltimore, Maryland, to kick off a major project funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace the 150-year old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel. This project will address the largest rail bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and New Jersey, and create good-paying union jobs, improve reliability, lower commuting times, and enhance safety and resilience. The program is expected to generate 30,000 jobs, including approximately 20,000 direct construction jobs, most of which do not require a college degree.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, with a $66 billion investment in rail.
At the project kickoff event, the President will announce:
- A project kickoff agreement has been signed by the State of Maryland and Amtrak, which includes a $450 million commitment from the state’s transportation agency for the tunnel replacement project;
- A project labor agreement has been signed between Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council, which is a local affiliate of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU), to cover the first phase of the project to ensure the project creates good-paying, union jobs; and,
- An agreement is in place between Amtrak and North American Builders’ Trade Union (NABTU) that ensures Amtrak’s large civil engineering construction projects controlled by Amtrak will be performed under union agreements. Those agreements will address points such as wages, benefits, working conditions, avoiding work disruption, and promoting diversity and veteran hiring in the construction trades. With this agreement, Amtrak and NABTU will not face labor-related delays in the planning and contracting of major projects; contractors and subcontractors share Amtrak’s commitment to paying fair wages and benefits; and, Amtrak and NABTU can move forward with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded projects with efficient labor-management relations.
Frederick Douglass Tunnel
The 150 year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel is the oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor. The 1.4-mile tunnel beneath densely populated West Baltimore connects Baltimore’s Penn Station to points south. The tunnel is the largest Northeast Corridor bottleneck between Washington and New Jersey and a single point of failure for the nine million Amtrak and Maryland Area Commuter (MARC) passengers who rely on it annually. In other words, there are no detours possible if the aging tunnel were to unexpectedly close. The tunnel’s tight curvature and steep incline requires trains to reduce speeds to 30 mph. These issues create chronic delays – more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays.
The Baltimore-Potomac Tunnel Replacement Program will build a new tunnel with two tubes along an alignment with softer curves; ventilation and emergency egress facilities; new signaling systems, overhead catenary, and track; five new roadway and railroad bridges in the area surrounding the tunnel; and a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station. The new tunnel will be named in honor of the civil rights leader and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, a Maryland native and frequent railroad passenger after escaping to his freedom from slavery by boarding a train in Baltimore.
When the program is complete, speed and capacity improvements will help enable service growth and eliminate nearly seven hours of train delay for the average weekday. Capacity of the tunnel is expected to nearly triple, and trains travelling through the tunnel will be able to go a up to 110 miles per hour versus the current 30 miles per hour. By one estimate, replacing the tunnel would save nearly 450,000 hours per year for MARC and Amtrak customers.
The total cost of the program is expected to be approximately $6 billion, of which Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding could contribute up to $4.7 billion. While the project received $44 million through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act for preliminary engineering and permitting, it lacked a viable funding source for construction until the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Now, with funding and the President’s commitment, early works, such as demolition, utility relocations, and select track work, will begin this calendar year. The program is expected to generate 30,000 jobs, including approximately 20,000 direct construction jobs. Amtrak is investing more than $50 million in local workforce development and community investments, including pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to ensure that local workers in West Baltimore can access these jobs.
Infrastructure Progress Across Maryland
Already in the first year of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, over $2.6 billion has been announced and is headed to Maryland with over 44 specific projects identified for funding. This includes:
- Roads and Bridges: In Maryland, there are 273 bridges and over 2,201 miles of highway in poor condition. To date, $1.8 billion has been announced in Maryland for roads, bridges, roadway safety, and major projects. This includes $1.6 billion in highway formula funding and $176.3 million in dedicated formula funding for bridges in 2022 and 2023.
- Airports and Ports: To date, Maryland has received approximately $31.8 million in 2022 and 2023 for airports and roughly $4.8 million in 2022 and 2023 for ports and waterways.
- Public Transit: Based on formula funding alone, Maryland would expect to receive approximately $1.8 billion over five years under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve public transit across the state. To date, Maryland has been allocated $346.8 million to improve public transportation options across the state in fiscal year 2022 and 2023.
- Clean Buses: To date, Maryland has been awarded $9.4 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program. In addition, communities in Maryland were awarded $16.8 million for clean transit buses and improved bus service through DOT’s Low- and No- Emission Bus and Bus and Bus Facilities Program.
- Electric Vehicle Charging: Through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program alone, Maryland should expect to receive roughly $63 million in formula funding over five years to support the expansion of electric vehicle charging in the state. In September, the Biden-Harris Administration approved Maryland’s EV Charging plan which unlocks their ability to invest the first $22.7 million to build out a network of EV chargers across the state.
- High-Speed Internet: To date, Maryland has received $5 million through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) to help provide access to high-speed internet across the state. In addition, about 182,000 households in Maryland are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
- Water: To date, $144 million has been announced to Maryland to provide clean and safe water across the state and improve water infrastructure. This includes $51.9 million is dedicated to lead pipe and service line replacement.
- Clean Energy & Power: To date, approximately $65.2 million has been allocated to Maryland for clean energy, energy efficiency, and power in 2022 and 2023. This includes: $45.7 million for weatherization; $7.1 million through the State Energy Program; $7.1 million through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program; and $4.4 million to prevent outages and make the power grid more resilient. Additional grid funding will be made available in the coming months.
- Resilience: In the last decade, Maryland has experienced 33 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $5 billion in damages. To date, approximately $157.1 million has been allocated to Maryland for infrastructure resilience in 2022 and 2023.
- Legacy Pollution Cleanup: To date, approximately $4.8 million has been allocated to Maryland in 2022 and 2023 for capping orphaned oil and gas wells and reclaiming abandoned mine lands and $500,000 has been allocated to cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites.
Economic Progress Across Maryland
Under President Biden, we’re building an economy from the bottom up and middle out, including creating good-paying jobs, record small business growth, and spurring new manufacturing investments across Maryland.
- Maryland’s unemployment rate is at 4% – down from 6.3% two years earlier. The state has added over 127,000 total jobs since the President took office.
- Over the last two years, over 206,000 new businesses have been started in the State of Maryland. In fact, 2021 had the most new businesses started in Maryland on record – 17 percent higher than the previous record.
- Across Maryland, companies have announced investments and expansions including Catalent (October 2021) which announced a $230 million expansion project in in Harmans, Maryland, creating more than 700 new jobs; Orsted committed (August 2022) to investing nearly $735 million to create thousands of jobs; and United Safety Technology Inc announced plans (March 2022) for a $350 million medical manufacturing facility at Tradepoint Atlantic in Baltimore County, which the company expects will create 2,000 jobs.
Progress on Rail
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak, with a $66 billion investment in rail. This includes:
- $22 billion directly to Amtrak, including $16 billion for the National Network and $6 billion for the Northeast Corridor;
- $24 billion in competitive grants for major capital projects on the Northeast Corridor;
- $12 billion in competitive grants for passenger rail expansion outside the Northeast Corridor;
- $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program, which provides competitive grants for freight and passenger rail safety and efficiency projects; and
- $3 billion in competitive grants for railroad crossing elimination projects.
In 2022, the Biden Administration announced $233 million in grants to upgrade intercity passenger rail service across the country. These investments will help replace bridges and tunnels along the Northeast Corridor, many of which are over 100 years old. Grants were also awarded to improve rail infrastructure in California, Michigan, and improving Chicago Union Station.
On November 30, 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration granted $4.3 billion to Amtrak, which represents the first year of the $22 billion in direct funding to Amtrak provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These funds will be used to modernize the intercity passenger rail network, most immediately funding improvements to several Amtrak-served stations to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, as well as fleet upgrades. With $22 billion in infrastructure investments over five years, Amtrak will increase accessibility at more than 280 Amtrak-served stations across the country. Funding will also be used to replace Amtrak’s existing fleet of over 1,000 railcars and locomotives with accessible, comfortable, state-of-the-art equipment. Portions of the new fleet will enter service in 2023, and over 525 new railcars and locomotives will begin service by the end of the decade. Amtrak debuted the design of the new “Airo” railcars in late 2022.
On November 15, the Federal Railroad Administration also announced its Northeast Corridor Inventory, outlining major backlog projects that will get funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the Hudson River Tunnel and East River Tunnel in New York, the Connecticut River Bridge, and the Susquehanna River Bridge and Frederick Douglas Tunnel in Maryland. The Administration expects that the $24 billion available for the Northeast Corridor will be sufficient to fund all major backlog projects and provide funding toward some additional improvement projects that reduce travel time, upgrade stations and facilities, or provide other enhancements. In late December 2022, the Federal Railroad Administration opened applications for the first $9 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for Northeast Corridor infrastructure projects under the Fed-State Partnership Program. Only projects on the Northeast Corridor Project Inventory published in November may be submitted for funding under this Notice of Funding Opportunity. The Frederick Douglass Tunnel could receive as much as $4.7 billion from this pool of competitive funding.
In December, the Federal Railroad Administration also opened applications for the first $2.3 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for intercity passenger rail projects outside of the Northeast Corridor under the Fed-State Partnership National Program.
2023 will be a year in which major rail projects receive their first funding, in many instances, after waiting decades for federal funding.