Amtrak has selected a Kiewit/J.F. Shea Joint Venture to build the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program in Maryland.
The new passenger rail tunnel will serve electrified Amtrak and MARC commuter trains and is the centerpiece of Amtrak’s Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program. The program will modernize and transform an approximately 10-mile section of the Northeast Corridor.
Located just south of Baltimore Penn Station, the new tunnel will serve electrified passenger trains with two parallel, single-track tunnel tubes, each approximately two miles long. It will also support much faster travel speeds than the existing tunnel, where trains are currently limited to maximum speeds of 30 mph due to the tight curves.
The overall program is scheduled for completion in 2035 and will be delivered through three major construction contracts.
“We are one step closer to unlocking the biggest passenger rail bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and New Jersey,” Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery Laura Mason said in an announcement. “This would not be possible without historic funding through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, as well as continued support from the Biden-Harris Administration, FRA and our funding partners at Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA).”
The new tunnel is named in honor of civil rights leader and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a Maryland native whose 206th birthday is later this month.
“This is welcome news for the 12 million people who rode Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor last year and the many millions more who are sure to make the switch soon to safe, fast, hassle-free travel,” Rail Passengers Association President & CEO Jim Mathews said in an announcement. “Anyone who has been on a train at the south end of the Baltimore station knows how frustrating it is to slalom slowly back-and-forth in this Civil War-era structure, and today’s announcement is just one more step towards giving Americans the modern rail network we all deserve.”