Nov 02, 2017
The plan to raise the clearance of an antiquated tunnel beneath downtown Baltimore has hit a major snag as CSX Corp. has pulled its support on the eve of a federal grant submission deadline.
Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn, in a late Wednesday [Nov. 1] letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, said MDOT would no longer be submitting an application for federal funding by the deadline date of today [Nov. 2]. In the letter, Rahn called the 11th-hour CSX decision “both surprising and incredibly troubling,” adding, “It is MDOT’s intent to work with CSX to explore other options to improve the flow of freight into and out of the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.”
The long-awaited, now-endangered project deals with the more-than-100-year-old Howard Street Tunnel, which would have to have its clearance increased to accommodate double-stacked containers on trains to and from the Port of Baltimore.
While earlier efforts to gain federal funding for the tunnel project had not proven fruitful, Maryland officials had confidently looked to again apply for federal dollars, this time seeking $155 million in federal money to augment $145 million from the state and $145 million that CSX had said it would pony up.
The total project cost had dropped dramatically as engineers, continuing to work while funding was in limbo, came up with a less expensive approach than originally proposed, but CSX, which owns the tunnel, has now backed out.