President Joe Biden visited Baltimore City on Monday to launch construction of the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, a rail tunnel designed to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel, Latrice Hill reports for Baltimore Fishbowl. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dedicated $6 billion for the project, marking the largest investment in a passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak.
Why is it necessary to replace the existing tunnel?
The B&P tunnel is the oldest in the Northeast corridor, and its design often leads to rail congestion and delays. Due to sharp turns and steep inclines, trains passing through the tunnel are required to slow down to 30 miles per hour. Plans for the new tunnel—including softer curves, ventilation, new signaling facilities, and an expansion to four tracks—will alleviate the congestion and allow trains to travel up to 110 miles per hour.
However, some residents oppose the new tunnel’s construction. At the event on Monday, local community group, Residents Against The Tunnels (RATT), expressed concerns that the construction would threaten historic homes in West Baltimore and that officials did not adequately consider renovating the existing tunnel.
Anything else I should know?
Aside from easing railway congestion, the Frederick Douglass Tunnel project is also expected to bring 30,000 jobs to the city. Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council signed an agreement stipulating that the project would create well-paying, union jobs. Amtrak is also dedicating $50 million to workforce development programs in West Baltimore.
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