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Amtrak Launches Procurement Phase for B&P Tunnel Replacement Program

Written by David C. Lester, Engineering Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Railway Track & Structures
Amtrak is in the procurement phase of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program. (Photograph Courtesy of Amtrak)

Amtrak is in the procurement phase of the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program. (Photograph Courtesy of Amtrak)

Amtrak is working toward replacement of B&P Tunnel in Baltimore.

Amtrak has kicked off the procurement phase for the $1-plus billion Southern Approach construction package, which is the first of three major construction contracts for the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program in Baltimore. Amtrak has issued a Request for Letters Of Interest (LOI) to the industry, indicating that this portion of the program will be completed under a Construction Manager At-Risk (CMAR) delivery approach.

The B&P Tunnel, located in Baltimore, dates from the Civil War era. At nearly 150 years old, it is the oldest tunnel Amtrak inherited and a single point of failure for MARC’s busiest line (the Penn Line) and the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The 1.4-mile tunnel, connecting Baltimore’s Penn Station to Washington and Virginia, suffers from a variety of age-related issues such as excessive water infiltration, a deteriorating structure, and a sinking floor. There are no fire and life safety systems that help keep passengers safe in the event of emergencies, and excessive costly maintenance is required. Due to its age, delays are chronic — more than 10% of weekday trains are delayed, and delays occur on 99% of weekdays. The B&P Tunnel must be replaced to meet the needs of the 9 million MARC and Amtrak customers who rely on it annually. (Amtrak photo)

“This is a major milestone for the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program and this contract includes several critical elements of the project,” said Laura Mason, Amtrak Executive Vice President of Capital Delivery. “Amtrak will be procuring multiple construction contracts as part of the program, which will include the construction of the new Frederick Douglass Tunnel, and other supporting investments, such as new bridges and railroad infrastructure, improving this vital stretch of the Northeast Corridor for generations to come.”

The B&P Tunnel Replacement Program (the Program) will modernize and transform a four-mile section of the Northeast Corridor. It includes two new high-capacity tubes for electrified passenger trains, new roadway and railroad bridges, new rail systems and track, and a new ADA-accessible West Baltimore MARC station. (Amtrak map)

Contractors interested in serving as the CMAR must complete the LOI in order to be eligible to receive the RFP (Request For Proposals) that will be issued for this portion of the project later this year. Amtrak will issue the RFP only to those contractors who have submitted timely and compliant LOIs. Interested contractors should visit Amtrak’s Procurement Portal located here for further information and submittal requirements. Construction contracts of subsequent portions of the program will be procured separately. Amtrak continues to advance design, property acquisitions, and preparations for other smaller construction projects associated with the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program, which will transform the Northeast Corridor in West Baltimore. The Program includes nearly $5 billion of construction, and after receipt of new federal funding created by last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Amtrak will be ready to complete early construction activities.

(On June 18, 2021, Amtrak and the Maryland Department of Transportation released new plans to replace the B&P Tunnel.)

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