By Railfan & Railroad Staff
NEW YORK — President Joe Biden joined officials in Baltimore and New York City this week to announce millions of dollars in state and federal support for two major tunnel projects on the Northeast Corridor: The B&P Tunnel Replacement Project in Baltimore and the Hudson River Tunnel Project between New York and New Jersey.
The dueling projects, which have been in the works for years, will not only keep Amtrak trains moving but also those of commuter rail agencies NJ Transit and MARC.
In Baltimore, Maryland committed $450 million in state funding for the construction of the new Frederick Douglas Tunnel to replace the B&P Tunnel that dates back to the Civil War. The state funding was critical in securing full funding support via the Federal Railroad Administration’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program. The project is expected to cost a total of $750 million and once complete will increase speeds along that part of the Corridor from 30 miles per hour to 110 miles per hour.
“Replacing this Civil War-era B&P tunnel will nearly triple train capacity on this critical section of the Northeast Corridor for the nine million annual Amtrak and MARC customers who rely on this vital connection,” said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner. “As we work with Maryland and our labor partners to deliver the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, we are grateful for essential funding that the Biden Administration has designated for this project, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the strong support of our many federal, state and local partners.”
At nearly 150 years old, the B&P Tunnel is Amtrak’s oldest tunnel on the Northeast Corridor. The 1.4-mile tunnel connects Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
Further north, under the Hudson River, officials in New York and New Jersey have for years been trying to garner support and dollars for a new tunnel there. The current portals were heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
On Tuesday, President Biden announced a $292 million grant thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law that will help complete the final section of the concrete casing for the new tunnel between Penn Station and the edge of the Hudson River. The entire Hudson River Project, also known as the Gateway Program, calls for the construction of a new tunnel and the rebuilding of the current portals, although it could take years to fully fund and complete.