Amtrak started the early construction activities as part of the B&P Tunnel replacement project in the Halethorpe and West Baltimore areas. The project has been symbolically launched by the President Joe Biden on January 30, 2023.
The work includes replacing aging wooden ties with new concrete ties, installing new rail and completing track drainage improvements.
“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,” Amtrak Executive Vice President Laura Mason said.
The overnight work associated with track and tie replacement will take place on track A from Winans to Bridge interlockings and is not expected to impact rail service. Bridge interlocking is located north of West Baltimore station and Winans interlocking is at the south end of Halethorpe station. This first phase of the project is targeted for completion this summer, with additional project work related to the replacement of an existing turnout in Winans with a new high-speed turnout in a future phase.
The 2.2 km 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% of weekday trains and delays occur on 99% of weekdays.
The tunnel, connecting Baltimore’s Penn Station to Washington and Virginia, was built 150 years ago and is the oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) and a single point of failure for both MARC and Amtrak trains.
The USD 6 billion B&P Tunnel replacement project will modernise a 6.5 km of track section on NEC and will include two new high-capacity tubes with electrified lines. This project is funded by a grant from the FY 2019 Federal-State Partnership for the State of Good Repair Programme which will eventually be advanced by Amtrak and its partners by using federal funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The programme is comprised of several investment projects to construct new bridges, rail systems and track, an ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station, and the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel.