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Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amtrak, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for a plan to improve the Baltimore & Potomac (B&P) Tunnel.
During project scoping, planners originally identified 16 alternatives, but the DEIS examines one build alternative with three options, as well as a no-build alternative, officials said in a joint press release. Public hearings on the DEIS are scheduled for Jan. 23 and 28.The 142-year-old B&P tunnel is used by Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) trains, and Norfolk Southern Railway. Located between MARC's West Baltimore Station and Amtrak's Baltimore Penn Station along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), the tunnel is approaching the end of its useful life.In May 2014, the FRA awarded a $60 million High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant for preliminary engineering and environmental analysis to study improvements to the tunnel. The study aimed to address deficient track geometry and tunnel characteristics which significantly hamper rail movement, which creates a low-speed bottleneck on a high-traffic section of the NEC, according to the project's website.Project planners anticipate to release a final environmental impact statement in fall 2016, with a record of decision expected in spring 2017.