US Transportation proposes $125 million INFRA grant to address obsolete railroad tunnel in Baltimore

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao Announces Major Infrastructure Investment in Maryland

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced $125 million in a proposed grant to Baltimore through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

“This significant federal investment will improve the Howard Street Tunnel so that people in Maryland will be better connected, and to enhance safety and economic growth,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The Maryland Department of Transportation will be awarded $125,000,000 to raise the vertical clearance of the Howard Street Tunnel to allow CSX to operate double-stack trains throughout its primary intermodal network. The project will rebuild CSX’s Howard Street Tunnel, raise clearances at approximately 22 existing grade-separated crossings, and relocate the Camden Street Storm Sewer Line Project under the Howard Street Tunnel.

View of tracks leading to south portal at Camden Station. (Wikimedia commons)

The project supports economic vitality by enabling rail operating efficiencies, reducing costs for container shipments at the growing Port of Baltimore, and reducing negative impacts from truck travel as shipments go by rail. The project supports innovation through use of drones for surveying activities to support project delivery, and through the use of private sector financing.

INFRA grants support the Administration’s commitment to fixing our nation’s infrastructure by creating opportunities for all levels of government and the private sector to fund infrastructure, using innovative approaches to improve the processes for building significant projects, and increasing accountability for the projects that are built. In addition to providing direct federal funding, the INFRA program aims to increase the total investment by state, local, and private partners.

INFRA advances a grant program established in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and utilizes updated criteria for evaluating projects to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals.  The program increases the impact of projects by leveraging federal grant funding and incentivizing project sponsors to pursue innovative strategies, including public-private partnerships.

Additionally, the new program promotes the incorporation of innovative technology that will improve our transportation system.  INFRA will also hold recipients accountable for their performance in project delivery and operations.

The Department is proposing awards under the INFRA program to both large and small projects.  For a large project, the INFRA grant must be at least $25 million.  For a small project, the grant must be at least $5 million.  For each fiscal year of INFRA funds, 10 percent of available funds are reserved for small projects. The INFRA grant program also preserves the statutory requirement in the FAST Act to award at least 25 percent of funding for rural projects.

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