When railroads were built, clearance concerns were limited to boxcars, hopper cars, and other general freight cars.
At the time, no one envisioned that one day, clearance would be required for containers and truck trailers sitting in well cars or on flat cars would require higher clearance than the original tunnels allowed.
For nearly two decades, railroads, particularly those in the east, have worked extensively to raise the clearance in the many tunnels on their lines in order to take advantage of the intermodal boom and remain competitive with interstate highway routes.
According to FreightWaves, this work is continuing on CSX. The news outlet reported that “CSX is planning to lower the track through the existing Boone railroad tunnel to allow for double-stack clearance on CSX’s Interstate 95 route from Baltimore to Philadephia.”
The Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission provided $8.4 million for the project in January, pointing act that this tunnel work “would allow double-stack container and multi-level auto rack traffic traffic to and from the port of Philadelphia.” CSX also received a grant from the state of $14.4 million for the project last year.
In 2020, CSX said “this grant allows CSX to lower tracks in nine key areas that will increase capacity and improve service between Philadelphia to Midwest and Southeast markets for both domestic and international intermodal and automotive traffic. The project will provide benefits for dimensional cargo shipments such as turbines and machinery. Pennsylvania stakeholders will also benefit from improved logistics systems along with the inherent environmental benefits of moving more freight by rail in lieu of trucks.”
FreightWays also reported that “CSX’s effort to widen another mid-Atlantic tunnel is also underway. The Howard Street Tunnel project is undergoing the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act.”
CSX also reported that “We are working with our partners at the FRA [Federal Railroad Administration] as the lead federal agency on an environmental assessment document, CSX said. “We hope to move into the design and construction portion of the project in 2021.”