Frederick Douglass Tunnel (Formerly B&P Tunnel) Program
The existing B&P Tunnel is located beneath West Baltimore, primarily in the vicinity of the Bolton Hill, Madison Park, Reservoir Hill, Sandtown-Winchester, and Upton neighborhoods. Amtrak owns the existing 2-track railroad tunnel, which is currently used by Amtrak, Maryland Area Rail Commuter (MARC), and Norfolk Southern Railway (NS). The existing tunnel was built in 1873 and is one of the oldest structures on the Northeast Corridor (NEC). It is also a bottleneck for the operations of MARC and Amtrak passenger trains. The 1.4-mile tunnel, connecting Amtrak’s Penn Station to MARC’s West Baltimore station, is impacted by various age-related issues, including excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure, and a sinking floor. The tunnel does not include any modern fire and life safety systems that help keep passengers safe in the event of emergencies, and extensive maintenance is required.
Environmental Impact Statement
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), as the lead federal agency, in coordination with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), as the recipient of grant funding administered by FRA, and with Amtrak, as the infrastructure owner, published a Notice of Intent (NOI) in 2014. In 2015-2016, FRA and MDOT prepared a Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. (NEPA) for the Frederick Douglass Tunnel Replacement Program (formerly known as the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program). The EIS considered the rehabilitation or replacement of the 1.4-mile-long rail tunnel. Specifically, the purpose and need of the project alternatives evaluated in the NEPA process were to address the structural and operational deficiencies of the existing B&P Tunnel and to accommodate future high-performance intercity passenger rail service goals for the NEC, including reducing travel time through the B&P Tunnel and along the NEC; accommodating existing and projected travel demand for intercity and commuter passenger services; eliminating impediments to existing and projected operations along the NEC; and providing operational reliability, while accounting for the value of the existing tunnel as an important element of Baltimore's rail infrastructure. The NEPA process for the project involved extensive public outreach to ensure the public is informed, including several opportunities for public comment on findings and recommendations. Outreach efforts included several open houses and community association meetings, elected official briefings, three public hearings, and a project website. FRA approved the Final EIS on November 25, 2016, which summarized the alternatives evaluation from the Draft EIS, including a review of the alternatives, their ability to meet the purpose and need of the project, and their potential impacts on the social, cultural, and natural environment.
Record of Decision
On March 24, 2017, FRA issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the B&P Tunnel Project, documenting the selection of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative 3B) and three ventilation facilities, one each at the North and South portals and the intermediate ventilation facility site at 900-940 West North Avenue.
FRA and Amtrak, the Project Sponsor and infrastructure owner, are advancing planning and design of the project as funding becomes available. Currently there is no funding for construction. In coordination with Amtrak, FRA will re-evaluate the 2017 FEIS and ROD per 23 CFR 771.129 for project refinements, as appropriate.
The most current information regarding the project's status is available on the Amtrak's website.
If you have questions related to the project’s NEPA process, please contact Eric Rothermel, FRA Environmental Protection Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send your comments to:
Federal Railroad Administration
RRD-30: Office of Environmental Program Management
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building, Mail Stop 20
Washington, DC 20590
The U.S. Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project sponsors, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government's environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Dashboard is part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. A link to this Project's page on the Dashboard is below.