Expansion of 126-Year-Old Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore Given the Green Light After Environmental Review

Renovating the Howard Street Tunnel will allow trains in and out of the Port of Baltimore to double stack containers, boosting economic activity. Photo from the Port of Baltimore.

The plan to expand the Howard Street Tunnel in Baltimore is set to move forward after a review of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday.

The expansion would revamp the 126-year-old tunnel to allow room for trains with double-stacked containers traveling to and from the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.

The receipt of a “finding of no significant impact” was the final approval under the National Environmental Policy Act that the project needed. CSX Transportation, which owns the tunnel, will now be able to finalize engineering plans and obtain permits.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and will be done in stages.

The tunnel currently sits too low for trains to carry double-stacked containers. The project will lower or alter tracks, and modify or replace bridges.

“The Howard Street Tunnel expansion is a major infrastructure project that will significantly increase business for the Port of Baltimore,” Hogan said in a statement. “This project will have a tremendous impact on Maryland’s economy, improve the flow of goods, and generate thousands of jobs in the Baltimore region.”

Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration Executive Director William Doyle said the project could make room for “incredible business opportunities into the Midwest” for Maryland’s container business.

“It also will help reduce fuel consumption by 137 million gallons via this rail throughput,” Doyle said. “A Howard Street Tunnel that’s able to handle double-stack trains will grow jobs at the Port and get the Port over its longtime hurdle, the lack of double-stack rail.”

The project is estimated to cost $466 million. Around $202.5 million will come from Maryland, $125 million from a federal Infrastructure For Rebuilding America grant, $113 million from CSX, $22.5 million from Pennsylvania and $3 million in federal highway formula funding.

As part of Maryland Matters’ content sharing agreement with WTOP, we feature this article from Zeke Hartner. Click here for the WTOP News website.