Amtrak awards major contract for Frederick Douglass Tunnel

Frederick Douglass TunnelAmtrak has selected Clark Construction/Stacy and Witbeck joint venture as the first of the three major construction contractors for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel programme. Competitive procurement was launched in June 2022 for the Southern Approach construction package (Package B).

The Package B is being delivered using a construction manager at-risk (CMAR) delivery method and includes the construction of a new West Baltimore MARC station and its southern approach from south station area and extending north to the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel south portal. Works also cover the replacement of multiple rail bridges and relocation and realignment of various utilities.

Additionally, separate contracts have been awarded to K.K. Adams and Delaware Cornerstone Builders, two local small business enterprises that will complete supplemental preconstruction activities ahead of major construction.

Construction contracts for other components of the project are being procured separately. For package A covering the Frederick Douglass Tunnel construction, the procurement process is underway, and the contract is expected to be concluded by the end of this year. For the package C which includes the tunnel track, systems and ventilation facilities, the contract is expected to be awarded at the end of 2025, or at the beginning of 2026.

Amtrak continues to advance design, property acquisitions, and preparations for other smaller construction projects associated with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel programme, which will transform the Northeast Corridor in West Baltimore and unlock the largest rail bottleneck between Washington, DC and New Jersey.

The entire investment for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel is estimated at approximately USD 6 billion, which is supported in part by federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, along with contributions from Amtrak and the State of Maryland.

“Building the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel along with the other programme improvements is a win-win for Baltimore that will create thousands of jobs and improve the experience for thousands of customers who rely on this critical connection every day,” Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery Laura Mason said.

The Frederick Douglass Tunnel programme will modernise a 6.4 km rail section on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) including the construction of two new high-capacity tunnel tubes with electrified tracks, new road and rail bridges, the new West Baltimore station and new rail systems.

This tunnel will replace the existing the 150-year old B&P Tunnel located in Baltimore on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). Early construction for the B&P Tunnel project started in March 2023 by replacing wooden ties with new concrete ties and installing new tracks. The official ceremony and the project’s agreement under which the State of Maryland will provide USD 450 million took place on January 30, 2023. The state’s funding, together with Amtrak’s USD 750 million will help the achievement of the full funding under the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Programme.

In addition, in July, Amtrak introduced its new rail strategy which places the improvement of NEC at the centre of the transformation of railway transport. Amtrak committed a USD 130 million investment to improve the rail infrastructure of NEC, of which USD 124 million was used this summer to upgrade 40 km of tracks, replace 40 switches throughout New York and Mid-Atlantic regions and completing surfacing work across the corridor.

This summer, Amtrak submitted applications for USD 7.3 billion federal funding  to implement 14 projects on NEC as well as to modernise critical infrastructure and expands its services. B&P tunnel replacement with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel is among the submitted projects. The 2.2 km B&P tunnel which connects Baltimore to Washington, D.C., is facing challenges due to its age-related infrastructure and deteriorated structure generating delays with impact on more than 10% of daily trains.

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