BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan and transportation officials on Monday broke ground on the expansion of the Howard Street Tunnel, an infrastructure project the governor said would end a bottleneck for freight cargo and create thousands of jobs in the state.
Enlarging the size of the 126-year-old tunnel and 21 other locations will allow trains going to and from the Port of Baltimore to double stack cargo containers, growing business at the port by 160,000 containers annually, Hogan said.
The project would make shipping goods by rail more effective and potentially cut fuel consumption from trucks by 137 million gallons and reduce congestion and emissions along the I-95 corridor, the governor said.
“This is an absolute game changer, not just for Maryland but the entire region,” Hogan said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Officials with the state, the Federal Railroad Administration, and freight rail operator CSX, which owns the tunnel, have been negotiating the details of the project for seven years. Initially, the projected cost of expanding the tunnel was $4 billion, but new technology allows the work to be completed for an estimated $466 million, Hogan said.
During a press briefing Monday, the governor highlighted other improvements made at the Port of Baltimore this year, including the completion of a second 50-foot berth to service ultra-large container ships and the arrival of four large cranes to unload cargo. Hogan said the state is pursuing a third berth.
He also noted partnerships with Amtrak to revitalize Penn Station and replace the B&P Tunnel, which dates to the Civil War. The latter project will help clear the largest bottleneck for passenger trains between Washington, D.C. and New Jersey, the governor said.
“Today, as we kick off reconstruction of this Howard Street Tunnel Project, we’re proving once again that investing in infrastructure is critically important to our state and national economies, and to the lives of everyday Marylanders and Americans,” Hogan said.
U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, CSX CEO Jim Foote, Maryland Transportation Secretary Greg Slater, Federal Railroad Administration deputy administrator Amit Bose, and Maryland Port Administration executive director William Doyle also hailed the project at the ceremony.
“This project has been a priority for all of Maryland. This is our future and we are well prepared with the new cranes and now the rail,” Cardin said.
— Port of Baltimore (@portofbalt) November 29, 2021