Amtrak selected the Clark Construction/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture for the first of three main construction packages for its $6-billion Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program in Baltimore, officials announced Sept. 11. The construction-manager at-risk contract, with an estimated value of more than $1 billion, covers the planned two-mile tunnel’s southern approach.

The program calls for construction of a tunnel with two tubes, each with interior diameters of 26 ft, to carry Amtrak and Maryland Area Rail Commuter (MARC) trains between Baltimore Pennsylvania Station and the West Baltimore MARC station on the Northeast Corridor rail line. It is intended to replace the 150-year-old B&P Tunnel. Amtrak says the 1.4 miles tunnel is deteriorating and lacks modern safety systems. 

The aging brick and masonry tunnel routinely causes delays because its tight curves and an incline that necessitate a 30-mph speed limit, creating a bottleneck on the busy line between Washington, D.C., and Boston, according to Amtrak. In addition to reducing those delays, Holly Arnold, the Maryland transit administrator, said in a statement that the project would help transform MARC “from commuter rail to regional rail.”

Overall, the project would include more than 30 miles of track work, five bridge replacements, construction of three ventilation facilities and about 200,000 sq ft of retaining walls. Construction of the full program is expected to involve about 20,000 jobs, according to Amtrak. The work is subject to a project labor agreement. 

Frederick_Douglass_Tunnel_map_ENR.jpgThe Frederick Douglass Tunnel would replace a tunnel that dates to the Civil War era. Map courtesy of Amtrak

The program is being funded by the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak and Maryland, including some Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds.

The scope of this newly awarded contract includes construction of a replacement ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station and of the approach to the southern tunnel portal, replacing three railroad under-grade bridges and two road bridges, as well as relocating utilities, according to Amtrak. A spokesperson could not provide a value for the contract, but Amtrak estimated it at more than $1 billion last year when it began procurement. As ENR previously reported, the winning contractor will work with Amtrak’s in-house design team and then propose a construction price. 

A spokesperson for the joint venture was not immediately available to discuss the project.

Of the two other main bid packages for the program, Amtrak says it anticipates awarding one for tunnel construction this year, and the final for tunnel fit-out in 2025 or 2026.

Amtrak anticipates opening the tunnel in 2033.