Study to explore possibilities for crucial Northeast Corridor crossing
Amtrak, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has launched a preliminary engineering study for rehabilitation or possible replacement of the 108-year-old Susquehanna River Rail Bridge. The study will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and examine various alternatives while considering environmental and historical impacts to the community.
The existing two-track bridge is a crucial link along the busy Amtrak Northeast Corridor (NEC), but is nearing the end of its useful life. Along with Amtrak and Maryland’s MARC Commuter Rail passenger trains, this section of the NEC is used by Norfolk Southern Railway to carry freight across the Susquehanna River. The bridge is owned by Amtrak.
“The Susquehanna River Bridge is a crucial crossing on the NEC,” explained Stephen Gardner, Amtrak Vice President of Northeast Corridor Infrastructure & Investment Development. “Along with our partners, we continue to work toward a vision for the next generation of this bridge to accommodate the forecasted growth in rail traffic and meet the needs of the local community.”
“This study is the first step in breaking a major bottleneck along the busy Northeast Corridor, which will ultimately improve trip time and reliability for our MARC passengers and freight shipments to the Port of Baltimore,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr. “I want to thank U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Maryland’s entire Congressional Delegation for their hard work and support for federal funding to improve passenger rail service and access to one of our State’s greatest economic engines, the Port of Baltimore.”
“Replacing the Susquehanna Bridge is critically important for travelers on the Northeast Corridor. A new bridge enhances safety, improves service reliability, reduces trip times and will provide a significant boost to the region’s economy,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “We need to move forward with engineering assessments and planning now so that the region’s future is not shortchanged.”
The project team will develop and evaluate various alternatives based on the need to improve capacity and enhance trip time, reliability and safety for commuter, freight and intercity passenger rail service on the NEC. Alternatives will include new and/or rehabilitated structures with up to a four-track total capacity crossing the river and the reconstruction of the approaches to the bridge, spanning approximately three miles on either side. The study, which is expected to be complete in mid 2017, also will consider possible improvements to the navigation channel for marine users. Preliminary engineering and environmental work is being funded by a $22 million federal grant from the Federal Railroad Administration. The project is not yet funded for design or construction.
Continuous and active public involvement is important to this process and helps to identify community needs and concerns. A public information session is scheduled for Monday, April 28, 2014 at the Havre de Grace Activity Center (351 Lewis Lane, Havre de Grace, Md. 21078). The community is invited to attend the fully accessible open house anytime between 5 and 8 p.m. to meet the project team, learn about the project, ask questions and provide feedback.
A project website has also launched to provide detailed information about the study, including: need, description, bridge history, study area map, environmental review information and proposed project schedule.
Amtrak is America’s Railroad®, the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. Amtrak and its state and commuter partners move people, the economy and the nation forward. Formally known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak is governed by a nine member board of directors appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Anthony R. Coscia is board chairman and Jeffrey R. Moreland is vice chairman. In FY 2014, nearly 31 million passengers traveled on Amtrak on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Enjoy the journey® at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter (@Amtrak) and check out our blog at blog.amtrak.com.
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) was formed in 1971 to consolidate several independent State agencies into one cohesive organization to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people, goods and services across multiple transportation modes throughout Maryland. Today, MDOT consists of a headquarters unit and six Modal Administrations, including: the Maryland Aviation Administration; the Maryland Port Administration; the Maryland Transit Administration; the Motor Vehicle Administration; the Maryland Transportation Authority; and the State Highway Administration. With 9,000 employees, MDOT works closely with citizens, elected officials, businesses, communities, governmental agencies and stakeholders to ensure that transportation investments move the State’s economy forward by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all Marylanders. More information about MDOT can be found at www.mdot.maryland.gov. Follow us on Twitter (@MDOTNews).
The mission of the Federal Railroad Administration is to enable the safe, reliable and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America now and in the future. The FRA is the nation’s safety regulator for the rail industry and manages a $23 billion grants and loans portfolio. The agency has nearly 900 employees nation-wide and a budget of $1.8 billion.