After a year-long competitive procurement, the rail company has selected the Clark Construction/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture for the Southern Approach construction package.

“This award represents the culmination of years of hard work to deliver significant long-term improvements right in the heart of a vital segment of the Northeast Corridor,” said Amtrak executive vice-president, capital delivery Laura Mason.

The entire investment for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel is estimated at approximately US$6bn (€5.58n), supported in part by federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, along with contributions from Amtrak and the State of Maryland.

The Southern Approach Package (Package B) is being delivered using a Construction Manager At-Risk (CMAR) delivery method. The contract includes:

  • building a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC Station
  • constructing the southern approach from south of the West Baltimore Station area and extending north to the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel south portal
  • replacing multiple railroad undergrade bridges
  • replacing the Edmondson Ave and W Lafayette Ave bridges
  • relocating and realigning various utilities

Separate contracts have been awarded to KK Adams and Delaware Cornerstone Builders, two local small business enterprises that will complete supplemental preconstruction activities ahead of major construction.

Construction contracts for other portions of the project are being procured separately. Package A – Frederick Douglass Tunnel construction, is in procurement and will be awarded later this year. Procurement for Package C – Tunnel Fit Out is yet to commence.

Amtrak continues to advance design, property acquisitions, and preparations for other smaller construction projects associated with the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program, which will transform the Northeast Corridor in West Baltimore and unlock the largest rail bottleneck between Washington, DC and New Jersey.

As the program progresses, these major construction contracts will support and complement other work Amtrak is undertaking. The first project, completed this summer, included replacing aging wooden ties with new concrete ties, installing new rail and completing track drainage improvements, which improved ride quality, increased track speed and will minimise the impact of future construction activities on operations.

The project, also known as the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program, will modernise and transform a 6.4km (four mile) section of the Northeast Corridor. It includes the construction of two new high-capacity tubes for electrified passenger trains, new roadway and railroad bridges, new rail systems and track, and a new station at West Baltimore.

The existing 2.25km (1.4-mile) B&P Tunnel, connecting Baltimore’s Penn Station to Washington and Virginia, is nearly 150 years old and Amtrak’s oldest tunnel. It suffers from a variety of age-related issues such as excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure, and a sinking floor. There are no fire and life safety systems and excessive costly maintenance is required. The state of the tunnel means more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed.