President Joe Biden marks start of train tunnel project in Baltimore
President Joe Biden visited Baltimore Monday afternoon, commemorating the start of a multi-billion dollar project to update the Frederick Douglass train tunnel.
A large Acela Class train sounded its whistle as the president took the stage; American flag bunting hung from Howard Street Bridge. Biden thanked Mayor Brandon Scott, Gov. Wes Moore, and Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller, as well as a variety of other Maryland political figures for the invitation to the city.
At 150 years old, the tunnel is the oldest of its kind operated by Amtrak and is slated for structural updates funded by the Democrats’ Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in November of 2021.
The nearly mile-and-a-half stretch that connects Penn Station to Washington, D.C. and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and is a notorious bottleneck; Amtrak says delays at the site are persistent.
Trains must slow down to 30 miles per hour to navigate a tight turn on the southern end due to the tunnel's curvature and steep incline but about a decade from now, after improvements are completed, trains could potentially travel up to 100 miles per hour in the same location, according to The Associated Press and The White House.
Early work, such as demolition or relocation of utility infrastructure is expected to begin this year.
According to the company, “more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays.” Updates will include two new tubes, new bridges, rail systems, train tracks and a “new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station.”
The project is estimated to cost a total $6 billion. According to The White House, funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law could make up to $4.7 billion. The Maryland Department of Transportation and Amtrak have pledged $450 million toward the revitalization.
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Tune in as I discuss how infrastructure funding will replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel. https://t.co/J1cfUcf9Kz— President Biden (@POTUS) January 30, 2023
A project agreement was signed by the State of MD and Amtrak - a $450 million commitment from the state’s transportation agency for the tunnel replacement project for Frederick Douglass Tunnel. @POTUS , @iamwesmoore , and @SecretaryPete spoke today in Baltimore on the project. pic.twitter.com/o4IgwxWNl2— Kaitlin Newman (@KaitlinObscura) January 30, 2023
Associated Press reporter Chris Megerian contributed to this news story.