Amtrak recently selected ADVANCE, a joint venture of AECOM and Jacobs, as its project delivery partner for the $6-billion Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program in Baltimore. It is the first time Amtrak is using the PDP model.

Plans call for a 2-mile dual-tube rail tunnel to replace the 1.4-mile Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel south of Baltimore Penn Station. Amtrak leaders say the future tunnel, named after the Maryland abolitionist, is needed to improve passenger rail service through the 150-year-old tunnel, which requires trains to reduce speed and needs frequent maintenance.

The program also includes five bridge replacements, a construction of a West Baltimore MARC station and other rail infrastructure improvements in the area.  

The tunnel will serve both Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and local Maryland Area Rail Commuter (MARC) trains. 

Amtrak has already awarded two contracts for different phases of the project. Last September, it selected a joint venture of Clark Construction and Stacy and Witbeck as construction manager-at-risk for work covering the tunnel’s southern approach and construction of the West Baltimore MARC station. Then in February, Amtrak picked a joint venture of Kiewit and J.F. Shea Construction Inc. for construction of the tunnel itself. 

Some demolition and other early work started last year, and major construction is scheduled to begin later this year. Amtrak aims for the full program to be completed in 2035. 

Under the PDP, ADVANCE will provide design oversight, construction management, contract management and other administrative support. According to Amtrak, the joint venture will share risk and be incentivized for its services.

The PDP model was used for construction of the 2012 Olympics facilities in London, and has been used on other large projects overseas. Jacobs, then as CH2M, was part of the consortium that worked on the London project. In the U.S., the $16-billion Hudson Tunnel Project, which will add a rail link between New Jersey and New York, is moving forward using the PDP model under its owner, the Gateway Development Commission. 

The PDP team “can address challenges quickly and transparently without disrupting service on one of Amtrak's busiest routes,” Chrissy Thom, a Jacobs' senior vice president, said in a statement.

In addition to AECOM and Jacobs, the ADVANCE team includes Sener, Turner & Townsend, RailPros, Aldea and Dr. Sauer & Partners, engineering firms, plus 22 disadvantaged and small business enterprises, according to Amtrak. The delivery partner has a 14% DBE/SBE goal.