The administration of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan hopes to rebuild the Howard Street Tunnel and widen 3.5 miles of the I-81 corridor.
The former is a project entirely pursued by the state, which put forward an Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) earlier this week. They want to see the 124-year-old Howard Street Tunnel remade and opened up to allow double-stack trains (trains with shipping containers stacked on top of each other) to reach the Port of Baltimore — an inability which has hurt the East Coast in the past, according to Hogan. Currently, the tunnel is not high enough to allow for any such thing, which forces companies to turn to trucks for shipping and adds to congestion on the I-95 corridor.
“Reconstructing the Howard Street Tunnel will create thousands of jobs, open up new trade lanes for the Port, and improve overall freight service across our nation,” Hogan said. “I’d like to thank our leadership team at the Port and CSX for their partnership and willingness to continue working with us on a solution. We look forward to working with our federal partners to make this transformative project a reality.”
The Maryland Department of Transportation notes support for the project has reached more than 100 endorsements across Maryland and the East Coast. The Port of Baltimore estimates that it could handle around 80,000 additional containers each year if the Howard Street Tunnel is reconstructed.
As for the I-81 project, Washington County is taking the lead on that INFRA grant, but it is supported by the state. That project has already generated $51 million in state, local and private investments, but they seek an additional $55 million from the federal government.