One of the most significant projects that may be undertaken to grow economic activity in the Greater Baltimore region often flies under the radar -reconstructing the Howard Street Tunnel to accommodate double stacked rail cars that are loaded at the Port of Baltimore. The project would benefit the State of Maryland and Greater Baltimore region with improved competitiveness of the Port, increased economic activity, and job creation.
Earlier this summer, Maryland was awarded $125 million in federal funding through the Infrastructure For Rebuilding America Grant Program to expand the Howard Street Tunnel. The grant’s approval is a clear signal that the federal government recognizes the importance of the Howard Street Tunnel’s expansion and the pivotal role it plays in the Greater Baltimore region and beyond.
While the construction project requires significant costs and labor, it simply calls for an increase in clearance to be added to allow double-stacked trains. These additional inches would eliminate the largest bottleneck on the East Coast of the United States for cargo trains. Double-stacked trains not only create efficiencies for carrying cargo and reduce trucks on our roads, but they would allow the Port to continue its ascension as one of the great East Coast ports.
Despite the federal grant’s approval, the project is not a certainty. The federal
grant is not enough to pay for the entirety of the Howard Street Tunnel’s expansion. Local and State government officials and leaders, along with CSX Corporation, owner of the Howard Street Tunnel, must band together and move forward their public-private partnership. By all accounts, that is happening as we speak.