BALTIMORE — The approaching CSX train fit snugly enough inside the tunnel at the Mount Royal Station, but not the state of the art, double-stacked trains now moving twice the goods from some other ports.
For years, Maryland looked like it would never be able to afford such an upgrade of the Howard Street Tunnel.
“It was originally estimated to cost more than four billion dollars,” said Gov. Larry Hogan, “but by utilizing the latest advances in construction technology, we are now able to accomplish it for for $466 million, which is 86 percent less than the original projected cost.”
Nearly half a billion dollars to create another 18 inches of height along the 1-point-7-mile corridor changing its vertical clearance for the first time since it was built 126 years ago.
It’s the final piece of the puzzle to deliver 21st century freight.
“We’ve made the investments for the super max coming through the Panama Canal, we have the cranes, we have the berths and now we have the rail service that will make this port the most competitive port in our region,” said Sen. Ben Cardin.
The project should allow the port to move 160,000 more containers per year and to reduce the its reliance on 18-wheelers to move freight saving gasoline, emissions and congestion along I-95.
“I know the Howard Street Tunnel Project will make a difference for the people of Baltimore and communities along the I-95 rail corridor and help make the supply chain for America’s businesses and families more robust and resilient,” said Amit Bose of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Along with the anticipated boost in business at the port when the project is completed, the tunnel expansion is expected to create 14,000 jobs with nearly half of them in construction.