Amtrak Awards Two Contracts for Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Courtesy of Amtrak

BALTIMORE – Today, Amtrak announced it has awarded two contracts for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program in Baltimore, Maryland.

Today, Amtrak announced it has awarded two contracts for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program. According to the news release, Amtrak has selected Clark Construction/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture “as the first of three major construction contractors for this phase of construction to deliver the program.” This follows a “competitive procurement” that began in June of 2022 “for the Southern Approach construction package.”

Amtrak’s Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery, Laura Mason, stated that the award “represents the culmination of years of hard work to deliver significant long-term improvements right in the heart of a vital segment of the Northeast Corridor. . . Building the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel along with the other program improvements is a win-win for Baltimore that will create thousands of jobs and improve the experience for thousands of customers who rely on this critical connection every day.” 

FRA Administrator, Amit Bose commented that the “progress is more evidence of how rail investments create jobs and opportunity in local communities. . . The Federal Railroad Administration is proud of our support of the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel and this project is one of several we plan to move forward through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and as part of our agency’s commitment to modernizing and expanding passenger rail.”

The investment for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel is about $6 billion, and the funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Amtrak, and the State of Maryland. The Southern Approach Package, or package B, will be delivered via a CMAR, or Construction Manager At-Risk, and it includes: “building a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC Station, constructing the southern approach from the south of the West Baltimore Station area and extending north to the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel south portal, replacing multiple railroad undergrade bridges [at] N. Warwick Ave., W. Mulberry St., and W. Franklin St.), replacing the Edmonson Ave. and W. Lafayette Ave. bridges, [and] relocating and realigning various utilities.”

“The New Tunnel Alignment” Courtesy of Amtrak

Other contracts have been awarded to K.K. Adams and Delaware Cornerstorne Builders, “two local Small Business Enterprises (SBE) that will complete supplemental preconstruction ahead of major construction.”

According to the release, “Package A” for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel construction is in procurement and will be awarded later this year. “Package B” is for “Tunnel Fit Out (tunnel track, systems, and ventilation facilities)” and will be awarded sometime in 2025 or 2026. 

Paul J. Wiedefeld, Maryland Transportation Secretary, stated that the “important milestone moves us one step closer to bringing the long-anticipated replacement of the B&P Tunnel into fruition. . . We look forward to continued collaboration with Amtrak as we deliver this vital connection and enhance overall mobility for commuters in Baltimore and beyond.”

Holly Arnold, Maryland Transit Administrator, echoed Wiedefeld’s sentiments and stated that the “Frederick Douglass Tunnel is a critical infrastructure project which will improve mobility and access for riders across the region. . . Improvements to the West Baltimore MARC station are key to transforming MARC Train from commuter rail to regional rail.”

Now, Amtrak will continue to “advance design, property acquisitions, and preparations for other smaller construction projects associated with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program, which will transform the Northeast Corridor in West Baltimore and unlock the largest rail bottleneck between Washington, DC and New Jersey.”

These construction contracts will help to support other work from Amtrak’s Infrastructure Maintenance and Construction Service team. The first project included “replacing aging wooden ties with concrete ties, installing new rail and completing track drainage improvements, which improved ride quality, increased track speed and will minimize the impact of future construction activities on operations.”

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