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Post Info TOPIC: Howard Street Tunnel expansion back on as CSX returns to table with $91 million commitment

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Howard Street Tunnel expansion back on as CSX returns to table with $91 million commitment

The Howard Street Tunnel expansion appears to be back on, after the railroad CSX Transportation reversed a decision to pull out of the project and committed $91 million toward it, Maryland officials said Thursday.
We are pleased that CSX has reversed its position on the Howard Street Tunnel project and is once again supportive and willing to participate, Senator Ben Cardin said in a statement.
he CSX commitment was secured during a meeting Thursday between CSX CEO Jim Foote and the Maryland Congressional delegation.
The project, considered crucial to the future prospects of the port of Baltimore, would expand the century-old tunnel under Howard Street through downtown Baltimore to accommodate trains with shipping containers stacked two-high.
Officials say that the ability to double stack containers on trains, which is the most efficient way to ship the truck-sized boxes on land, will generate 34,000 jobs and $2.9 billion for the region.
This is an essential project for the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, and the entire East Coast, Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement. Reconstructing the Howard Street Tunnel will create thousands of jobs, open up new trade lanes for the Port, and improve overall freight rail service across our nation.
But the long-awaited project appeared doomed last year, after CSX withdrew its support. The move caused state officials to cancel a request for $155 million in federal money for a project they hoped would be a boon for the port of Baltimore.
A spokeswoman for the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railroad, the successor to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, could not immediately comment on the announcement Thursday evening.
The $91 million CSX has committed appears to be less than what the railroad had offered earlier. The railroad and the state had agreed to split $270 million of the projects costs when it was first announced.
CSX pulled out last year with little explanation other than citing a new operating plan.
Lawmakers rushed to claim credit for the reversal Thursday, with a spokeswoman for Larry Hogan saying that the project had been a priority for the Maryland governor since before the election.
Our administration has been in close contact with CSX throughout this process, and we welcome them back to the table to work together and get it done, Amelia Chasse said. Our administration stands ready to work with our federal partners to secure the resources we need to to get this critical project back on track."
The state had sought the $155 million federal grant to completely fund the project, which also would have lowered the tracks under nine bridges in the city.
Congressman Elijah Cummings said he and colleagues had urged CSX to continue with the project last year.
I am pleased that CSX kept its word and has now concluded that there is significant value in this project and the company is again willing to participate financially, he said.
In September, Marylands U.S. senators wrote a letter asking CSX if it would consider reviving the project.


-- Edited by Calvin on Thursday 13th of December 2018 06:58:50 PM




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