Amtrak has taken a major step toward building a planned West Baltimore tunnel, the federally subsidized passenger rail company announced Tuesday.
Kiewit/J.F. Shea Joint Venture, a construction supergroup made up of two separate companies, was awarded a $1 billion-plus contract to bore two new tunnel tubes underneath West Baltimore as part of a more than 10-year effort to upgrade passenger rail service in the region.
The future Frederick Douglass Tunnel, named after the famed Maryland writer and abolitionist, will replace the 151-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel that Amtrak’s passenger trains currently use. Amtrak officials have long pointed to the tunnel as a major bottleneck in service along the Northeast Corridor.
With up to $4.7 billion worth of federal grants, the new tunnel will be the single biggest construction effort that Amtrak is leading to date. It’s one of multiple rail upgrades coming to Maryland with funding from the 2021 infrastructure bill championed by President Joe Biden, a longtime Amtrak passenger prior to his election.