Today, federal, state and local leaders highlighted the 150th anniversary of the Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) tunnel’s groundbreaking and unveiled new plans to enhance and advance the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program.
Additionally, Amtrak announced the new tunnel will be named after Frederick Douglass, the late Maryland-born and world-renowned abolitionist leader.
“In naming this vital piece of new infrastructure on the Northeast Corridor, we want to highlight Frederick Douglass as a critically important figure in American and Maryland history, whose principles and work inspire Amtrak and align with our own values and mission,” said Amtrak president Stephen Gardner. “As Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom by way of a train in Baltimore and traveled extensively by rail, naming this state-of-the-art new passenger rail tunnel after him is a fitting way for us to honor his legacy.”
“It is a tremendous honor to have the future tunnel named for Frederick Douglass,” said Nettie Washington Douglass, a great-great granddaughter of Douglass. “Baltimore was where the first seeds of freedom were sewn for my great-great grandfather.”
“Built just after the Civil War, the B&P Tunnel is reaching the end of its useful life,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary, Polly Trottenberg. “This project will modernize a critical part of the Northeast Corridor making the train work better for the 9 million passengers that depend on it each year. It’s a great example of what we can accomplish more of with the American Jobs Plan.”
All MARC Penn Line and Amtrak trains will use the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel. MDOT and Amtrak have agreed on a phased implementation approach, where the initial implementation will include two new high-capacity tunnel tubes for electrified passenger trains but defer the construction of two additional tunnel tubes that could be designed to accommodate freight trains in the future. To enable this new plan, Gregory Slater, Maryland Secretary of Transportation, announced that MDOT will electrify its MARC commuter trains through the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel.
A key benefit of the new approach is that it will eliminate diesel train emissions at a ventilation facility on North Avenue in West Baltimore. The changes will also save two years during construction and more than $1 billion.
The B&P Tunnel Replacement Program is a broad range of investments that will transform a four-mile section of the Northeast Corridor in Baltimore. It includes the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC Station, and the replacement of bridges, track, and rail systems. Amtrak is currently performing final design and initiating property acquisitions to prepare for construction. Pending sufficient funding for the approximately $4 billion investment, early construction activities on the tunnel’s southern approach could begin over the next one to two years.
-via Press Release