CSX and the state of Maryland are asking for federal money to expand the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore to fit double-stack trains.
The project, long backed by the city of Baltimore, calls for increasing the height of the tunnel and 22 bridges between the city and Philadelphia. Such an extensive plan would prove a boon to contractors and suppliers with experience in railroad tunnel and bridge work.
“Reconstructing the Howard Street Tunnel will create thousands of jobs, open up new trade lanes for the Port, and improve overall freight rail service across our nation,” Marylad Gov. Larry Hogan said in a written statement.
CSX and Maryland put the cost of the project at $466 million. That’s a dramatic drop from the billions estimated previously. CSX has agreed to contribute $91 million to the project. Maryland will kick in $147 million. The railroad and state are asking federal officials to make up the $228 million difference.
In November 2017, several months after Hunter Harrison became CEO of CSX, the railroad walked away from an earlier proposal to raise the height of the Howard Street Tunnel. Harrison died on Dec. 16, 2017. By September 2018, the Class 1 was again suggesting it was open to the project.
Raising the height of the 121-year-old Howard Street Tunnel is a crucial step in a larger plan by CSX to eventually operate a double-stack corridor between New York and Florida. Short-term, expanding the tunnel would allow the port of Baltimore to handle an additional 80,000 shipping containers per year, the state said, according to local media reports.