WTOP: Amtrak announces repair plans for rails, bridges across Va., DC-Boston corridor

WTOP, DAN RONAN

Amtrak got billions from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law to improve and expand passenger rail services across the country. In 2024, Amtrak said, much of that money will be used to repair rail lines and aging bridges on the crowded Northeast Corridor between D.C. and Boston.

“Amtrak ridership is soaring and we’re advancing plans to further enhance and expand our services across the United States with our various partners, thanks to these grants,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said in a statement.

The Frederick Douglass Tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland, is slated to get more than $4.5 billion for repairs, with another $2 billion going to replace the Susquehanna River Bridge in Maryland.

Baltimore tunnel, when updated, will allow trains to travel up to 110 miles per hour and cut travel time between D.C. and New York by 30 minutes, making the tracks safer and allowing for more Amtrak and MARC train service on the lines.

“The MTA is working with Amtrak in close partnership to look at all possible improvements to regional mobility, while ensuring there will be no impact on LIRR operations,” MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer said in a statement on the funding and construction project.

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Virginia is also slated to get nearly $730 million to expand the Long Bridge over the Potomac, between Arlington and the District, expanding Amtrak and the VRE’s capacity.

“For years, we’ve been championing the expansion of rail to every corner of the Commonwealth because it’s a slam dunk for local economies, cuts traffic, and protects the environment,” Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner said in a joint statement. “We’re thrilled the bipartisan infrastructure law is taking a big step towards expanding service across the entire Commonwealth so communities along the I-95 corridor and beyond can be connected by more convenient, consistent passenger rail.”

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Retiring Representative Abigail Spanberger, who previously announced plans to run for governor, highlighted her support and vote for the funding, calling it a major investment in Virginia.

“[T]he Long Bridge project will make sure that Virginians can rely on rail to get where they’re going when they’re travelling on Amtrak or VRE,” Spanberger said. “This funding will also allow for the construction of a third track along sections of the corridor in Prince William, Stafford, and Spotsylvania — making a massive difference for the Virginians I represent.”

President Biden and other supporters of passenger rail say the current system is old and has been neglected for too long.

Grants were awarded to Amtrak through the Federal Railroad Administration using its Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program. Projects included in the program are part of a national network and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Corridor Identification and Development Program.

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