March 2021 Update: Following the public comment period ending March 31, 2021, the project requires final National Environmental Policy Act approval before CSX can complete final engineering and obtain permits. Pending that approval, construction is expected to begin later this year. (source: https://www.maritimeprofessional.com/news/comment-period-open-baltimore-tunnel-365644)
The state and the railroad CSX Transportation have agreed to a plan to remove a bottleneck for freight shipping beneath the streets of Baltimore.
The additional clearance would allow shipping containers from the port of Baltimore, for the first time, to be stacked two-high atop trains, a far more efficient way to move them. The Port of Baltimore stands to see a big increase in containers because it is located more inland than competitors, making it cheaper to send containers to the midwest region of the U.S.
Funding for the $466m project is split between MDOT ($202.5m), USDOT ($125m), CSX ($113m), and PennDOT ($22.5m).
The economic benefits include:
-6,550 construction jobs
-7,290 jobs as a result of double-stacking including 2,950 direct jobs, 3,400 induced jobs and 940 indirect jobs
-25% annual increase in the number of containers the port brings in by at least
-$613 million annually in personal income and re-spending/local consumption
-$43 million annually in business revenue
-$65 million annually in state and local tax revenue
Reconstruction of the tunnel itself will cost $263.2 million. The remaining $180.3 million is needed for increasing the clearance at 22 bridges.
Pennsylvania will clear 10 of the bridges. The other 10 are all in Baltimore; seven of those will require lowering the tracks. Three bridges located at North Avenue, Guilford Avenue and Harford Road will involve reconstructing the bridges.
An environmental assessment in March 2021 points to increased emissions and fuel usage if the project does not move forward since much of what comes into the port winds up on the roads instead of on the rails
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