Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program

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Quick Facts: Frederick Douglass Tunnel

Project Status

In Final Design Stage (As of October 2023)

Customer Benefits

  • 10 miles of rail improvements along the NEC
  • ~2 miles of new tunnel per bore in West Baltimore (two tunnel bores)
  • New and improved railroad infrastructure
  • New ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC Station
  • All-electric passenger trains through new tunnel tubes
  • State-of-the-art modern fire/life safety systems
  • 5 bridge replacements in Baltimore City (2 roadway, 3 railroad bridges)
  • 11 Baltimore City roadway modifications
  • Noise barriers in Midtown Edmondson and Greater Rosemont communities

Estimated Construction Completion

Estimated 2035

Latest Milestone

Awarded major contracts for tunnel construction (Package A) and the Southern Approach (Package B)

Upcoming Milestones

Demolition activities begin in Spring 2024

Project Partners

U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)/Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), Baltimore City

Funding Sources

FRA Discretionary grants, MDOT/MTA, Amtrak, IIJA

Nearly 150-years old, the B&P Tunnel dates from the Civil War era. It is also the largest bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and New Jersey.

The Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) Tunnel is the oldest Amtrak tunnel and a single point of failure for the 9 million MARC and Amtrak customers who rely on it. The 1.4-mile tunnel, connecting Baltimore’s Penn Station to Washington and Virginia, suffers from a variety of age-related issues such as excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure, and a sinking floor. The tunnel lacks adequate fire and life safety systems to help keep passengers safe in the event of an emergency, and excessive costly maintenance is required. The tunnel is at capacity, and the tunnel’s tight curvature requires trains to reduce speeds to 30 mph. These issues create chronic delays — more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays.

Without the roughly $6 billion replacement, these issues will persist, and the risk to Northeast Corridor operations will grow. A tunnel replacement program has already completed its environmental (NEPA) review, and preliminary work is beginning in 2023. Pre-award authority has been given by the Federal Railroad Administration for major construction contracts to be awarded. Funding will be a combination of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding and Maryland and internal program revenue.

The Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program reached three major milestones in 2023.

In February 2024, Amtrak awarded a contract for Frederick Douglass Tunnel construction (Package A) to Kiewit/J.F. Shea Joint Venture. Throughout tunnel construction, Amtrak will continue to keep the community informed and updated, perform real-time monitoring, and undertake other industry-leading activities to protect adjacent properties.

The third and final contract for fitting out the tunnel with tracks and systems is expected to be awarded in 2025/2026, and a delivery partner will be chosen soon to support the project's execution.

The Existing B&P Tunnel

A train comes through the Frederick Douglass Tunnel

The New Tunnel Alignment

A map of the B&P Tunnel Replacement