State Eyes Reconstruction Of Freight Rail Bottleneck

The Maryland Department of Transportation plans to reapply for a federal grant to reconstruct the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore, Governor Larry Hogan and CSX CEO Michael Ward announced today. The grant application is for $155 million.

The Howard Street Tunnel is 121 years old and its current height restrictions prohibit double-stacked containers from leaving the Port of Baltimore by rail to the midwest and other areas of the country. Estimates for the tunnel’s reconstruction total approximately half a billion dollars. Reports The Baltimore Business Journal

Hogan’s administration has committed $145 million to the project while CSX Corp. (NASDAQ: CSX), which owns and maintains the tunnel, will contribute $125 million.

Earlier this year the Maryland Department of Transportation applied for a federal grant to get the remaining $155 million, but the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected the application.

Once completed, the Port of Baltimore would handle approximately 80,000 additional containers annually and create about 3,000 additional, permanent jobs from the increased business. The Port of Baltimore is one of only three East Coast ports that can accommodate large container ships coming through the newly expanded Panama Canal. The inability to ship double-stacked cargo by rail from the Port through the Howard Street Tunnel is generally regarded as the major hindrance to advancing Maryland’s freight network.