February 7, 2023

RK&K Assists with Critical Project Aimed at Alleviating Northeast Rail Bottleneck

Planning group completed the Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision and led and supported environmental technical studies for the replacement of the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel.

Improved reliability, lower commuting times, and enhanced safety and resilience were mentioned when President Joe Biden recently visited Baltimore, Maryland to announce the replacement of the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, the oldest tunnel on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, which connects Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

Alongside U.S. Department of Transportation and state officials, Biden said his administration will invest $4 billion to replace the tunnel which often suffers from age-related issues, such as commuter and long-distance rail traffic “chokepoints” and delays.

The new tunnel, named after civil rights leader and Maryland native, Frederick Douglass, will include two tubes along an alignment with softer curves, ventilation and emergency egress facilities, new signaling systems, five new roadway and railroad bridges in the area surrounding the tunnel, and a new ADA-accessible MARC station in West Baltimore.

“This is just the beginning of having a 21st-century rail system that’s been so long overdue in this country,” said Biden.

To begin this work, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Amtrak tasked RK&K with completing the project’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and related environmental studies.

RK&K’s Environmental Planning team completed the draft and final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision along with leading all supporting environmental technical studies and documentation for socioeconomic, historic architectural and archeological resources, Section 4(f), hazardous materials, natural resources, air quality, noise, and vibration.

The team, with support from Remline and Assedo, also led a robust public involvement program that included keeping the public, agencies, and key stakeholders informed while documenting public feedback. To do this, RK&K’s team developed and maintained the project’s website and hosted five public open house meetings and an additional 15 smaller-scale community meetings as the project advanced through the NEPA review process.

“RK&K remains involved, and anticipates staying involved, as the design progresses and as we continue to re-evaluate environmental issues and track environmental commitments,” said RK&K’s Director of Environmental Planning Eric Almquist, AICP, SPWS, CSE.

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