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CSX announced last week the on-time completion of the first phase of the new Virginia Avenue Tunnel project in Washington, D.C., which cleared the way for the Class I to move double-stack trains between Middle Atlantic ports and the Midwest.The tunnel is the last of 61 clearance projects that comprise the $850 million National Gateway Initiative, a public-private partnership formed in 2008 to fund the creation of more efficient pathways for freight transported by rail, CSX officials said in a press release.The first CSX train passed through the new southern tunnel of the two-tunnel project on Dec. 23. The train was carrying double-stacked containers between Portsmouth, Va., and North Baltimore, Ohio. Work on the northern tunnel has already begun, and the entire project is expected to be completed on schedule in mid-2018."Clearing the National Gateway for double-stack freight creates more efficient, more environmentally friendly routes to move the essential goods that fuel today’s economy,”"said CSX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Ward. "Thanks to the support of our federal and state partners over the past eight years and the commitment of CSX’s shareholders to invest in the company’s future, the double-stack-cleared National Gateway will allow CSX to better meet the needs of consumers and businesses throughout the eastern U.S. for decades to come."When both tunnels are completed, the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project will relieve a significant Mid-Atlantic rail bottleneck that impacts freight and passenger service in the region as growing rail traffic has consumed infrastructure capacity, CSX officials said.The National Gateway Initiative has been supported by the District of Columbia and the states of Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as a diverse group of 336 public- and private-sector organizations and individuals.On Dec. 15, CSX and Maryland officials applied for a U.S. Department of Transportation FASTLANE grant to double-stack clear the Howard Street Tunnel and 10 grade crossings in Baltimore, which would remove the final impediments to a fully double-stack-cleared rail corridor between Florida and New York.If funded, the Howard Street Tunnel project would improve competitive advantages for the Port of Baltimore, remove additional trucks from the nation’s highways and create more than $640 million in benefits to 25 eastern states, according to CSX. The Class I has committed to contribute $145 million of the funding required to complete the project.
CSX posted this video on Facebook of its train passing through the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.