Joe Biden Comes To Baltimore, Announces New Harbor Tunnel

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Credit: Amtrak

BALTIMORE COUNTY - President Joe Biden visited Baltimore on Monday afternoon to announce a suite of new infrastructure projects coming to the state, including a $6 billion replacement of the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel.

The 150-year-old tunnel is the oldest in the northeast corridor, and according to the White House, it is one of the most significant rail bottlenecks in the country.

"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," the White House said in a statement.

The tunnel was constructed well before the era of modern public transit design and is woefully unequipped to handle new Amtrak trains that race along the tracks at 110 to 140 mph.

The 1.4-mile tunnel's tight curvature and steep incline require 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.

When the project is complete, speed and capacity improvements will help enable service growth and eliminate nearly seven hours of train delay for the average weekday. The tunnel's capacity is expected to almost triple, and trains traveling through the tunnel will be able to go up to 110 miles per hour.

The new tunnel will feature two tubes along an alignment with softer curves, ventilation, emergency egress facilities, new signaling systems, an overhead catenary, and a track. Five new roadways and railroad bridges will be built in the area surrounding the tunnel, and a new ADA-accessible MARC station will be added in West Baltimore.

The program's total cost is expected to be approximately $6 billion, of which Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding could contribute up to $4.7 billion. 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.

One of the project's main goals is to create jobs in Maryland and ensure that those jobs go to unionized workers.

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.

Additionally, 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.

See here to learn more about this project or other infrastructure upgrades coming to Maryland.

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