News Article

Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program Update: Initial Demolition Begins
February 27, 2024


By: Luigi Rosa and Danelle Hunter

One of the largest transportation infrastructure investments on the East Coast has begun demolition in Baltimore. Amtrak’s $6 billion Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program has entered a new phase, along with major construction activities set to begin later this year.

Over the past decade, Amtrak and our state and federal partners at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) have conducted hundreds of outreach engagements with residents and community organizations to guide program development, share updates, and discuss future activities.

Today, as the construction and community engagement leaders for this critical infrastructure investment, we’re continuing our commitment to consistent and transparent community updates with a preview of the program’s next steps and opportunities to stay informed throughout construction.

Many Baltimoreans are familiar with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program, which has been developed, reviewed and refined over the years. This transformative transportation investment is funded in large part by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, thanks to President Joe Biden, Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Representative Kweisi Mfume and others in Congress, along with support from other elected officials including Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.

The overall program will modernize and transform a 10-mile section of the Northeast Corridor, America’s busiest passenger railroad. It will unlock the biggest rail bottleneck between Washington, D.C. and New Jersey, improving reliability and travel times for millions of people while also upgrading local infrastructure in the West Baltimore area, like replacing the Edmondson and Lafayette Street Bridges.

The centerpiece is a new tunnel named after civil rights leader and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, a Maryland native. We’re also building a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station, five new roadway and railroad bridges, new rail infrastructure (modern tracks, new catenary wires for electric power, etc.) and more.

Another important aspect includes creating thousands of local, good paying construction jobs that will provide opportunities to economically disadvantaged communities in the project area, thanks to local hire agreements and training investments. And Amtrak has committed $50 million specifically for a Community Investment Program that will fund projects in six dedicated categories, including community and workforce development, parks and recreation, and more.

Two local small businesses have mobilized crews and equipment and begun demolition for the first of 47 residential and commercial properties that have been acquired by Amtrak. The contractors are experienced in performing demolition work and familiar with all applicable rules and regulations in Baltimore City. They will also install fencing lined with screening fabric around each site. Each contractor has a detailed work plan, including how adjacent properties will be protected during this process.