Amtrak and Maryland are counting on the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill to provide funding for the $4 billion replacement of the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Amtrak and the Maryland Department of Transportation announced plans to develop a new tunnel, to be named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, in June.
The new tunnel itself would cost about $2.7 – the rest of the $4 billion would go towards new tracks and bridge replacements south of the tunnel and a new commuter rail station in West Baltimore.
The 148-year-old tunnel, which connects Baltimore’s Penn Station and Washington’s Union Station, is the biggest passenger rail bottleneck between Washington and New Jersey.
The tunnel causes delays for more than 10% of weekday trains, and costs Amtrak and MARC trains an average of seven hours of delays each weekday. It is also impaired by persistent water leaks and brick deterioration.
In the existing tunnel, trains slow to a crawling 30 mph. Trains in the new tunnel could hit 100 mph.
The new tunnel would take between 10 to 12 years to complete, with tunneling for the new bores expected to begin in 2026.
Amtrak and Maryland plan to apply jointly to the U.S. Department of Transportation to receive some of the $30 billion in the infrastructure bill designated for major projects.
Maryland and Amtrak are currently negotiating the state’s share of the new tunnel’s cost.
Amtrak trains account for a majority of the trains that pass through the tunnel. A third of the trains belong to the state-run MARC.
The new tunnel would improve reliability, and shorter commutes could open opportunities for employment and economic development, proponents say.