News & Reviews News Wire B&P Tunnel to receive more than $4 billion in federal funding, Biden says

B&P Tunnel to receive more than $4 billion in federal funding, Biden says

By Trains Staff | January 30, 2023

| Last updated on February 6, 2024

First work to replace 150-year-old tunnel will begin this year

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An Amtrak Acela train exits a tunnel in a mountainside.
An Amtrak Acela passes maintenance-of-way equipment as it emerges from Baltimore’s B&P Tunnel in June 2012. President Joe Biden said Monday the project to replace the tunnel will receive substantial federal funding. Mitch Goldman

BALTIMORE — President Joe Biden today announced that the project to replace the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel, a Northeast Corridor bottleneck dating to 1873, will receive more than $4 billion in federal infrastructure funding.

“The structure is deteriorating. The roof is leaking. The floor is sinking. This is the United State of America, for God’s sake,” Biden said, according to the Washington Post, during his appearance at Baltimore Penn Station, with the B&P tunnel as a backdrop. “… For years, people talked about fixing this tunnel. This is a 150-year-old tunnel — you wonder how in the hell it’s still standing. And with the bipartisan infrastructure plan, we are finally getting it done.

The White House said the tunnel project could ultimately receive up to $4.7 billion in federal funds, although no allocations have yet been made by the Department of Transportation. The first work — demolition, utility relocation, and some track work — will begin this year to replace the B&P tunnel with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel, which will feature bores allowing speeds up to 110 mph. The current tunnel has sections as slow as 30 mph because of sharp curves.

Amtrak said in a statement that it intends to commit approximately $750 million toward the project, expected to cost about $6 billion, while Maryland will commit about $450 million.

“Replacing this Civil War-era B&P tunnel will nearly triple train capacity on this critical section of the Northeast Corridor for the nine million annual Amtrak and MARC customers who rely on this vital connection,”  Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said in a press release. “As we work with Maryland and our labor partners to deliver the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, we are grateful for essential funding that the Biden Administration has designated for this project, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the strong support of our many federal, state and local partners.”

The Post reports that Monday’s event included the announcement of multiple labor agreements that officials say will assure good jobs and lower the chances of labor disputes that could delay construction. The White House has said the tunnel project will create 20,000 jobs.

Today’s event was the first of back-to-back days of rail-related infrastructure events scheduled for Biden. On Tuesday, he is slated to appear in New York to highlight the Hudson River rail tunnel that is part of the Northeast Corridor’s Gateway Project.

19 thoughts on “B&P Tunnel to receive more than $4 billion in federal funding, Biden says

  1. Message from the editor: fix it.

    The sentence “… lower the changes of labor disputes …”

    Should read: “… lower the chances of labor disputes …”

  2. I am still wondering about the Prez claiming to ride in the cab of the locomotive of his train, fifteen percent of his claim of traveling a million miles on Amtrak. You would think Amtrak would be fully funded by now. Still, it languishes…..

  3. Charles- I should add that two of the oldest baseball parks that are over 100 years old and going stronger than ever and a tribute to how things were built to last for years Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Boston’s Fenway Park.
    Joseph C. Markfelder

  4. What is remarkable about these old tunnels the Baltimore one and the Hudson River tunnels is that when they were built, they certainly were built to last for a century or more and built with with obslete and crude tools and mostly by hand. The stuff that is built today would and will never last as long as those old tunnels or for that matter old bridges and buildings. In New york City there are bridges that over 100 years old like the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge and every day are still earning their kee by being a faithful conveyor of cars, subway trains and hundreds of pedestrians walking back and forth across those spans. The Baltimore tunnels might now be old, decrepit and in need of replacement but they still have a few years of life in them and will being doing so while the new tunnel is built which who knows how many years it is going tto take to build. The ghost of General Grant might still haunt or ride through that tunnel. It was built during his administration and amazing also in 1873 the same year that there was a worldwide financial collapse and here in this country known as the Panic of 1873
    Joseph C. Markfelder

    1. JOSEPH — You make it sound like we can’t build anything any more in America, or at least nothing that lasts. I’m beginning to think the same, pretty much.

      At the hockey game this past weekend (Milwaukee Admirals), I thought back to the last time I went to a hockey game. It was around 1975, Cobo Arena in Detroit. What’s my point? Joe Louis Arena came after that, and Joe Louis Arena is already torn down. “The Joe” it lasted about 41, 42 years.

      For the basketball fans among us, The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit Pistons) didn’t last even that long, maybe around 30 or 35 years. Ditto, Milwaukee’s Bradley Center.

  5. “The White House has said the tunnel project will create 20,000 jobs.”

    The White House also says that the southern border is secure while illegals, drugs, and sex traffickers swarm across it on a daily basis.

    Kool-aid, anyone?

  6. If you like the current Pres or not it’s about time that the Baltimore and NYC tunnel projects get funded. I seem to remember the numerous “Infrastructure weeks” held by the former Pres and great builder of bankrupt edifices for himself (think Atlantic City) with no $ going to these projects!

  7. How come Uncle Joe couldn’t come up with a bipartisan infrastructure plan for all those years he rode through the tunnel twice a day. I wonder how much less it would have cost.

    1. Because Uncle Joe did absolutely nothing when he was a Senator. In any given session of Congress there’s a certain number of Senators and Congress People (either party) who do nothing more than cash their paycheck. He was one of those.

    2. You would think someone on JB’s staff would get him to stop mentioning the debunked story he keeps telling about his conversation with an Amtrak conductor. He did it again but most of the news media ignored it.

  8. HUGE amount of money, almost Largesse—Baltimore’s answer to Boston’s Big Dig. Elsewhere it was stated all these jobs were UNION. Expect juicy overspending. (For the Record—I DID get a tiny bit of that Big Dig spending which sharply drove up the pay for doing traffic counts.) That PRR plan–WHEN was that? Just build it right, boys—It’s OUR money that’s in it! THINK-the original NYP Project of the PRR only cost $110 million (NOT including interest cost, times change). Portal Bridge alone is $1.6 BILLION! Straightening out curves isn’t worth it, as Amtrak found. Build it right the first time!

  9. Ironically Senator Biden rode through this long decrepit tunnel for years on his Wilmington – DC commute. I guess it’s appropriate that he kickoff its long overdue replacement.

    1. That depends upon where (and what) that “greatest number” is? How many riders are on NEC trains that pass through the Baltimore rail tunnel every day in comparison to the number of motorists (person-trips, cars and buses) on the parallel Interstate 95 corridor?

      I’m NOT saying this tunnel replacement project isn’t needed (or long overdue), I’m merely urging caution in expressing broad-brushed statements such as “the greatest good for the greatest number.”

      Some interesting questions/perspectives elsewhere in the comment string and indeed some good questions as to why the former Senator from Delaware, now in the WH, couldn’t make more progress during his time in the senate to get this long-overdue infrastructure project funded and built many years ago.

      My understanding is that this Baltimore tunnel replacement project is still going to take almost ten-years (?) to finish? (with an opening sometime after 2030?). Not exactly getting “infrastructure” built in a timely fashion …

  10. This is good news. I remember riding through this tunnel decades ago. I can understand the President’s obvious exasperation with the situation. The NEC is so vital to our national well-being. We can’t afford to neglect this tunnel and the Hudson tubes.

  11. Sometimes it would be nice to build from scratch and not have to upgrade ten miles at a time.
    But when you have to satisfy millions of “stakeholders” it really complicates (& increases cost) progress.
    Wonder if I will ever live to see the N.E. Corridor be as good as it could be.

  12. The original PRR plan was to build tunnels with enough capacity for themselves and B&O traffic obviating Howard Street. Should have done it then (along with straightening out the curve at Frankford Jct. but that’s another story).

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