Northeast Corridor rail line to get $16.4 billion overhaul

November 6, 2023

The U.S. Department of Transportation is making $16.4 billion available to fund a major overhaul to the Northeast Corridor railroad line, which serves 800,000 passengers daily between Boston and Washington, D.C.

The funds will cover 25 projects in several states, and will include upgrading tunnels, bridges, tracks, power systems, signals, stations and other aging infrastructure.

Amtrak said its ridership is surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. The projects will help reduce delays and travel time for passengers by overhauling infrastructure that is older than 99% of Americans, and replacing or upgrading 12 major bridges and tunnels that are over 100 years old.

Projects were selected through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Fed-State NEC). The program will make a total of $36 billion available over the next five years, with $24 billion for projects on the NEC and $12 billion for intercity passenger rail projects and nationwide high-speed rail initiatives.

Nationwide grants through the Fed-State program will be announced in the coming months, building on previous rail investment announced earlier this year that includes the new Rail Crossing Elimination (RCE) grants and the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants.

The projects include:

  • Up to $4.7 billion for the Maryland – B&P Tunnel Replacement Program: Frederick Douglass Tunnel. The project includes final design and construction of the Frederick Douglass Tunnel, which will replace the Baltimore and Potomac tunnel. It includes building a two-track tunnel for passenger rail use, three ventilation facilities and an approach track. The project also reconstructs associated railroad and roadway bridges in the area and rebuilds the West Baltimore commuter station to accommodate the new railroad alignment and upgrade the station to fully accessible high-level platforms. Upon completion, speeds along this segment will increase from 30 mph to 110 mph, eliminating the slowest section of mainline track between Washington, D.C., and New York City.
  • Up to $3.8 billion for the New Jersey/New York – Gateway Program: Hudson Tunnel Project Systems and Fit Out. The project includes final design and construction of the Hudson River Tunnel project and rehabilitating the existing 113-year-old North River tunnels. Construction will include installation of track, signals, traction power, ventilation, fire and life safety systems, and other necessary systems.
  • Up to $2.1 billion for the Maryland – Susquehanna River Bridge Replacement Program. The project includes final design and construction for two new fixed, two-track bridges over the Susquehanna River between Havre De Grace and Perryville, Maryland, replacing the current 117-year-old, two-track structure. The new spans will improve upon the 90-mph speed on the current structure, with one span designed for 125-mph operation and the other for up to 160-mph operation, reducing travel time for thousands of daily passengers along the NEC. Amtrak and the State of Maryland will collectively provide $520 million in matching funds.
  • Up to $1.3 billion for the New York – East River Tunnel Rehabilitation:
    The project includes final design and construction of the East River Tunnels in New York City. The tunnels are used by Amtrak’s NEC services, Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit for a total of more than 400 daily trains that run on a more than 100-year-old-plus structure. The project will fund full rehabilitation of two of the four tracks with installation of a new direct fixation track, traction power, drainage systems, signals, communication systems, and fire and life safety upgrades throughout the tunnel. Damage to the tunnels from Superstorm Sandy will be fully remediated, returning two tracks to a state of good repair and preparing the tunnels to accommodate future growth.
  • Up to $826 million for the Connecticut – Connecticut River Bridge Replacement. The project includes construction to replace the existing Connecticut River bridge between Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, Connecticut, with a moveable bridge immediately to the south of the existing structure. The bridge would replace the 116-year-old Amtrak-owned bridge and maintain the two-track configuration and existing channel location and provide a bascule moveable span with additional vertical clearance for maritime traffic. Amtrak will provide $148 million, and Connecticut will provide $58 million in matching funds.

Photo by Shreder 9100 courtesy of Creative Commons.

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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