Baltimore, MD — This summer the expansion of the Howard Tunnel in Baltimore took another important step forward when it received its final environmental approval, paving the way for construction to begin later this year. The project will revamp the 126-year-old tunnel to allow room for trains with double-stacked containers traveling to and from the Port of Baltimore.

“A Howard Street Tunnel that’s able to handle double-stack trains will grow jobs at the Port and get the Port over its longtime hurdle, the lack of double-stack rail,” said William Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. “It also will help reduce fuel consumption by 137 million gallons via this rail throughput.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan tours the Howard Street Tunnel in 2016. The expansion project received its final environmental approval in June. Image courtesy of Maryland GovPics.

In addition to vertical clearance improvements at the tunnel, 22 other locations between Baltimore and Philadelphia require work. The $466 million project benefits from public-private investment from the State of Maryland, the federal government, and CSX.

“This is another example of how we are working collaboratively with our port, state, and federal partners to modernize our rail infrastructure to bring consumer goods they use every day in a more efficient and sustainable manner,” said Brian Hammock, director of state relations for CSX.

The tunnel, originally constructed by the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) railroad between 1890-95, is a crucial artery for the Port, which just received four new supersized cranes as part of its plans to double container capacity.

“This project will have a tremendous impact on Maryland’s economy, improve the flow of goods, and generate thousands of jobs in the Baltimore region,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Overall, the project is expected to increase the Port’s business by about 160,000 containers annually, generating approximately 6,550 construction jobs and an additional 7,300 jobs from the increased business. Construction will be done in stages and could be completed in 2024.

Nine freight railroads operate across Maryland, hauling enough freight every year to take 4.7 million trucks off the road, which prevents the emission of 1.5 million tons of greenhouse gases.