Maryland secures funding for double stacking at Baltimore tunnel – UPDATED

Updates article with comment from CSX

The state of Maryland has secured funding to reconstruct Baltimore’s Howard Street Tunnel to allow for double stacking, but the details are still forthcoming.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Dec. 5 that Maryland has enough funds for the project, which would enable CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) to run double stacked trains through the tunnel. Maryland officials have been wanting the project to come to fruition because double stacking would benefit intermodal trains running up and down the East Coast and to and from the Port of Baltimore.

The Maryland Department of Transportation has not returned a request for comment. But CSX, which declined to comment about specific funding levels until the state makes an official announcement, said, “CSX has worked closely with Governor Hogan and the Maryland Port Administration to secure full funding for the Howard Street Tunnel project. We want to thank the Governor for his leadership in working with the private sector to find a successful resolution to move the project forward and are appreciative of all involved stakeholders at the local, state and federal level that have stepped up their support including the Maryland Congressional Delegation and the City of Baltimore.”

Meanwhile, the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), a regional commerce group, applauded Maryland’s efforts to reach the funding goal of $466 million.

“The Greater Baltimore Committee commends Governor Hogan, state transportation officials and CSX for their leadership in identifying the funds needed to advance this project of tremendous significance to the Baltimore region,” said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the GBC. “The GBC has advocated for this project for more than a decade, and we applaud the collaboration and hard work of the public and private entities whose persistence has made it possible.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has not officially commented on the development, but his press office confirmed the funding by releasing a Nov. 25 letter from Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. In the letter, Rahn describes the project as being fully funded.

“I am pleased to report that our efforts have paid off, and we have identified a variety of state, private and federal formula sources to close the funding gap. At this point, the $466 million project is fully funded,” Rahn said.

The state secured a $125 million federal grant in July, and CSX had promised to fund a portion of the project after previously backing away from it. The state also had dedicated funding towards the tunnel expansion. But Maryland still needed about $103 million for the project to proceed, according to the Baltimore Sun.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.