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Rail News: CSX Transportation

CSX, Maryland agree to pursue Howard Street Tunnel project

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and CSX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward have agreed to find a way to expand CSX's Howard Street Tunnel underneath Baltimore, state officials announced yesterday.

Hogan and Ward reconfirmed their commitments to make the necessary infrastructure adjustments to allow for double-stacked container trains to move to and from the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, according to a press release issued by Hogan's office.

Height restrictions within the tunnel currently prevent double-stacked intermodal trains from accessing the port. That factor puts the port at a competitive disadvantage, as all other major East Coast ports have double-stack rail capacity, according to Hogan administrative officials.

Reconstruction of the tunnel has been discussed for years, but was postponed due to concerns that the project would be "highly disruptive" to the surrounding community, state officials said. Project cost estimates have ranged from $1 billion to $3 billion.

However, CSX and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) have determined that recent advances in construction technology — including a technique that involves lowering the floor and notching the crown of the tunnel — make the project more affordable at $425 million with minimal impact to the community.

CSX and the state have agreed to provide a combined minimum $270 million toward the project's cost, with the state seeking federal dollars to fund the remaining amount.

"This transformational critical-infrastructure project will further position the port and existing Maryland businesses for a bright future, as well as help attract new businesses to the state," said Ward. "Additionally, this project will create jobs while helping to make commutes safer and quicker and improving air quality."

Hogan said state officials would reapply for $155 million in federal FASTLANE funding, a new grant program under the U.S. Department of Transportation. Earlier this year, the Maryland Department of Transportation applied for a grant to modify the existing tunnel, but was denied.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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