Amtrak, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration, has launched a preliminary engineering study for the rehabilitation or possible replacement of the 108-year-old Susquehanna River Rail Bridge.
The existing two-track bridge, a vital crossing on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), is used by Amtrak and Maryland’s MARC Commuter Rail passenger trains as well as Norfolk Southern Railway, which uses it to carry freight across the Susquehanna River. The bridge is owned by Amtrak.
Stephen Gardner, Amtrak Vice President of Northeast Corridor Infrastructure & Investment Development, said that the Susquehanna River Bridge is a crucial crossing on the NEC. “Along with our partners, we continue to work toward a vision for the next generation of this bridge to accommodate the forecasted growth in rail traffic and meet the needs of the local community.”
The project team will develop and evaluate various alternatives to improve capacity and to enhance trip time, reliability and safety for commuter, freight and intercity passenger rail service. Alternatives will include new and/or rehabilitated structures with up to a four-track total capacity crossing the river and the reconstruction of the approaches to the bridge.
“This study is the first step in breaking a major bottleneck along the busy Northeast Corridor, which will ultimately improve trip time and reliability for our MARC passengers and freight shipments to the Port of Baltimore,” stated Maryland Transportation Secretary James T. Smith, Jr.
The study is expected to be complete in mid 2017. Possible improvements to the navigation channel for marine users will also be considered. The engineering study and environmental work, which will comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, is federally funded by a $22 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration. Design or construction funding has not yet been made.
“Replacing the Susquehanna Bridge is critically important for travelers on the Northeast Corridor. A new bridge enhances safety, improves service reliability, reduces trip times and will provide a significant boost to the region’s economy,” explained Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “We need to move forward with engineering assessments and planning now so that the region’s future is not shortchanged.”
Detailed information about the study, including description, history, study area map, environmental review information and proposed project schedule is available at the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project web site.