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FRA Releases Revised Proposal to Rebuild B&P Tunnel After Receiving Input From Baltimore Community

Agency seeks more input in two public forums on revised proposal

WASHINGTON – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today presented a revised proposal to replace the Civil War-era Baltimore and Potomac (B&P) Tunnel based on feedback provided to the FRA by Baltimore residents during three public hearings in February.  In December 2015, the FRA presented three options for replacing the tunnel in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Based on feedback during three recent meetings in February and 19 public hearings, open houses, project and community association meetings during the last two years, two options have fallen (Alternative 3A and Alternative 3C) from consideration, and FRA will make several significant changes to Alternative 3B in the Final EIS.

“Rebuilding the B&P Tunnel is a significant undertaking, and it is our responsibility to incorporate input from everyone it will serve and affect,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “I encourage everyone to stay involved and provide feedback during the two open forums.”

FRA will host two more public hearings to gather additional feedback from residents and stakeholders today, Wednesday, April 6, from 5-8 p.m. at the Frederick Douglass High School Cafeteria, and on Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Carver Vocational-Technical High School Cafeteria.  

FRA’s proposed changes include:  not placing the vent plant where a community garden is located and instead seeking community input for a location along North Avenue; reducing the number of parcels of land and historic properties impacted; decreasing relocations; improving the West Baltimore MARC station to be larger and ADA compliant; and shifting the new tunnel closer to the existing tracks;.  The proposed tunnel would be an average of 115 feet deep underground in comparison to the average 20 feet of the current B&P Tunnel.  The deeper tunnel would nearly eliminate any noticeable vibrations from passing trains.

“The changes that the FRA is proposing based on the feedback provided by citizens in Baltimore will reduce the impact to the communities and make the project stronger and better,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.  “The FRA remains committed to listening to and working with residents in Baltimore as the project moves forward, and we hope everyone will stay engaged.”

One hundred and forty Amtrak and MARC trains travel daily through the tunnel that is part of the Northeast Corridor, the nation’s busiest rail corridor.  While Amtrak owns the tunnel, FRA is leading the EIS process in cooperation with Maryland’s Department of Transportation.

The federal government has invested $60 million for the preliminary design and environmental review of the project.  The state of Maryland estimates 7,000 jobs a year over seven years will be created or supported and more than 50 percent of those jobs will be in construction. 

The chart below shows the proposed changes that the FRA made to Alternative 3B.

Proposed Changes FRA Made to Alternative 3B

Criterion

Alternative 3B (DEIS)

Revised Alternative 3B

Travel Time Savings over No-Build (Min:Sec)

Acela: 2:32

Regional: 2:26

MARC: 1:53

Acela: 2:31

Regional: 2:32

MARC: 1:49

Capital Cost Estimate (YOE $)

$4.0 billion

$4.0 billion

Surface Right-of-Way (ROW) Acreage Required

17.1 acres

12.0 Acres

Number of Surface Parcels Impacted

100

51

Section 4(f) Properties Impacted

8

8

Adverse Effects for Historic Properties

8

(*83 contributing historic elements impacted)

8

(*62 contributing historic elements impacted)

Residential Displacements

**46

**22

Business Displacements

9

6

Community Facility Displacements

5

4

Average Depth of Tunnel

130 feet

115 Feet

Permanent On-Street Parking spaces lost

150

85

Reconstruction of West Baltimore MARC Station

Yes; facilitates high-level platforms between Franklin and Mulberry

Yes; facilitates high-level platforms between Franklin and Mulberry

ROW Impacts within Minority and Low Income Areas

(includes roadway ROW)

Minority: 15.1 Acres

Low Income: 2.4 Acres

Minority: 10.8 Acres

Low Income: 2.0 Acres

*Contributing resources are buildings and elements of historic districts.
** Five of the relocations shown are currently vacant properties.

The area shaded in black represents the original surface impact of the south portal of Alternative 3B.  The yellow outline shows the reduced impact of Alternative 3B Revised.

The FRA will continue to work with the public over the next several months to mitigate the effects of the project.  The Final EIS, scheduled to be published later this year, will include this coordination and the resulting mitigation plans and environmental commitments.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016
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