Governor Larry Hogan today announced that Maryland will receive $125 million to help rebuild the nearly 125-year-old Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore. The funding, part of the federal INFRA (Infrastructure For Rebuilding America) Grant Program, will allow the state, in partnership with CSX, to double-stack shipping containers in order to break the rail bottleneck before the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.
According to a press release:
“For years, our administration has pursued funding for this critical project, and after a number of roadblocks, we are finally able to move forward on reconstruction,” said Governor Hogan. “This grant will help us to break a coast-wide bottleneck, further bolstering our economic success at the Port of Baltimore and across the state. I want to thank the U.S. Department of Transportation, CSX, and our partners at the Port for making this initiative a reality.”
Height restrictions within CSX’s Howard Street Tunnel currently prevent the shipment of double-stacked intermodal containers (two shipping containers stacked on top of each other) by rail to and from the Port of Baltimore and up and down the East Coast. Double-stack provides a more cost-effective way to transport freight by rail than by truck, reducing congestion along the entire I-95 corridor and delivering environmental benefits with less emissions and cleaner air.
Last March, CSX and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) estimated that allowing for double-stack clearance in the tunnel and under 22 bridges between Baltimore and Philadelphia would cost $466 million. CSX and the state committed a combined $238 million toward the project – $147 million from the state and $91 million from the Fortune 500 railroad company.
According to The Baltimore Sun:
The money is more than $100 million less than the state and CSX Transportation, the successor to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad that owns the freight tunnel, applied for, and it’s not clear how the two will make up the difference.
The administration estimates that adding double-stack containers would increase the port’s business annually by as many as 80,000 additional shipping containers.
A good social media response from MD-2 Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger highlights the federal efforts to get this project funded: