Amtrak advance $1.5b infrastructure investment to enhance Northeast Corridor

Posted: 21 November 2022 | | No comments yet

Amtrak is moving forward with a project to replace the 116-year-old Susquehanna River Rail Bridge to improve efficiency on the Northeast Corridor.

Improved Susquehanna River Rail Bridge

The new bridges will reduce trip times and improve reliability for passengers that rely on this critical connection. Credit: Amtrak

As the longest moveable bridge on the Northeast Corridor, the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge is used by Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail and Norfolk Southern to support more than 110 passenger and freight trains daily.

The Amtrak project will involve building two new bridges to replace the current bridge, and works to replace overhead power, signalling, safety and security systems. The total construction cost to replace the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge is estimated to be at least $1.5 billion.

A critical connection

Laura Mason, Amtrak’s Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery, said: “The bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad at the turn of the 20th century and while it was well-constructed and remains safe, it is a significant bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor. Once complete, both new bridges will reduce trip time and improve reliability for passenger and freight trains that rely on this critical connection.”

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amit Bose, said: “The FRA is proud of the federal investments being made in the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project. We are eager to see those investments move Amtrak riders, commuters, and freight faster and more efficiently. With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have the opportunity to update and replace more aging rail structures like the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge, and we look forward to working with States and entities to deliver the rail projects people across the country need and deserve.”

Improving capacity, journey times and safety

Currently, crossing the bridge requires trains to slow to a speed of 90mph, resulting in capacity and reliability constraints. To resolve this issue, two newly constructed two-track fixed bridges will replace the existing two-track movable bridge, along with five miles of additional track realignment and construction. In the coming months, Amtrak plans to issue several key solicitations, including, but not limited to:

  • Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for the construction of the new bridges
  • Design-Bid-Build (DBB) contract for enabling works.

Amtrak, the FRA and the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) plan to award both contracts in 2023.

As a funding partner for the project, MDOT MTA has committed $3 million toward a design grant that was recently awarded. Amtrak and MDOT MTA are in discussions about jointly pursuing additional grant funding for the cost of construction under the Federal State Partnership Program.

“We are pleased to invest $3 million to partner with Amtrak to complete final design on the Susquehanna Bridge,” said MDOT MTA Administrator Holly Arnold. “The Susquehanna Bridge provides a critical link for service to the north and this project will provide improvements to MARC Train capacity, trip time and safety.”