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Amtrak Advances Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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Amtrak photo

Amtrak is moving forward on the $1.5 billion replacement of the 116-year-old Susquehanna River Rail Bridge to “improve railroad efficiency on the Northeast Corridor (NEC).”

According to Amtrak, two new fixed-span double-track bridges will replace the current double-track Susquehanna River Rail Bridge—the longest moveable bridge on the NEC—used by Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail and Norfolk Southern (NS) to support more than 110 passenger and freight trains daily. Overhead power, signal, safety and security systems will also be modernized as part of the replacement project.

“The bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad at the turn of the 20th century, and while it was well-constructed and remains safe, it is a significant bottleneck on the NEC,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President Capital Delivery Laura Mason. “Once complete, both new bridges will reduce trip time and improve reliability for passenger and freight trains that rely on this critical connection.”

Amtrak’s NEC Susquehanna River Rail Bridge crosses the river between Perryville and Havre de Grace, Md. CSX’s Philadelphia Subdivision runs parallel, just to the north. Norfolk Southern’s Port Road Branch to Harrisburg, Pa., and Enola Yard connects with the NEC at Perryville, as does CSX’s Perryville Branch. OpenRailwayMap.org

According to Amtrak, the existing bridge has a 90-mph speed restriction, resulting in “capacity and reliability constraints.” Maximum operating speeds on this section of the NEC typically range from 110-135 mph. The new two-track fixed-span bridges that will replace the existing double-track moveable bridge, along with five miles of additional track realignment and construction, will address this issue.

In the coming months, Amtrak plans to issue several RFPs (requests for proposals) for contracts that, with the FRA and the Maryland Department of Transportation/Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA), it plans to award in 2023. The contracts include:

  • Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for bridge construction.
  • Design-Bid-Build (DBB) contract for enabling works.

MDOT/MTA, as a funding partner for the project, has committed $3 million toward a recently awarded design grant. Amtrak says it and MDOT/MTA are “in discussions about jointly pursuing additional grant funding for the cost of construction under the Federal State Partnership Program.”

“We are pleased to invest $3 million to partner with Amtrak to complete final design on the Susquehanna Bridge,” said MDOT/MTA Administrator Holly Arnold. “The Susquehanna Bridge provides a critical link for service to the north, and this project will provide improvements to MARC Train capacity, trip time and safety.”

Amtrak is inviting firms interested in the program to attend an Industry Day in December 2022 to learn more about the project. Interested contractors should monitor Amtrak’s Procurement Portal for further information. The Procurement Portal will offer additional solicitation information and submittal requirements. Attendance at Industry Day, Amtrak says, is not required to submit a proposal but is “highly encouraged.”

The Susquehanna River Rail Bridge was identified on the FRA’s recently released NEC Project Inventory list and, according to Amtrak, is “one of several major infrastructure projects [our] newest department, Capital Delivery, is advancing.”

Earlier this year, procurement launches were announced for replacement of the B&P Tunnel in Maryland and the Connecticut River Bridge. Amtrak says it will continue announcing similar procurement opportunities in the coming months.

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