Federal funding will allow Howard Street Tunnel project to begin

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BALTIMORE — Maryland will receive $125 million in federal funding for the Howard Street Tunnel project — significantly less than the state and CSX Transportation had sought, but enough to start working on the project.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the federal funds are more than $100 million below the figure sought by the state and railroad to increase clearances in the tunnel under Baltimore, as well as at 22 bridges between Baltimore and Philadelphia, to allow for double-stack container operation. The entire project is estimated to cost $466 million; Maryland and CSX had sought $228 million and pledged to cover the rest with $147 million from the state and $91 million from the railroad. There was no immediate word on how the state and CSX planned to make up the $103 million shortfall.

Still, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement celebrating the award: “This grant will help us break a coast-wide bottleneck, further bolstering our economic success at the Port of Baltimore and across the state.”

The project’s lengthy history saw the railroad withdraw from the planning process for the project in 2019 [See “Maryland wants explanation for CSX Howard Street Tunnel decision,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 2, 2017], only to rejoin the effort a year later [see “CSX Transportation commits to Baltimore tunnel clearance project,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 14, 2018.]

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