BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Port of Baltimore has received a $15.6 million grant to update the Seagirt Marine Terminal’s intermodal rail yard so that it can accommodate a larger number of shipping containers, according to port staff.

This will support the increased demand for double-stacked trains of containerized cargo to markets across the country, port staff said.

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The grant comes from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Consolidated Rail and Infrastructure Safety Improvements (CRISI) program. It goes toward building four new rail tracks totaling 17,670 track feet and two crane rail beams totaling 7,000 linear feet within the Seagirt Terminal, according to port staff.  

The FRA grant includes a $6.7 million match from Ports America Chesapeake, the Maryland Port Administration’s public-private partner at the Seagirt Terminal, port staff said.

“This funding will support the continued growth of Maryland’s Port of Baltimore,” Gov. Larry Hogan said. “This project adds to the more than $200 million that I authorized for the Howard Street Tunnel expansion project which will allow for double-stack capabilities to and from the Port, increased Port business, and thousands of jobs.” 

The upgrade includes the conversion of the existing diesel-fueled rail yard operation to electrified equipment, which should alter the air quality in the port area, port staff said.

The upgrade should alleviate bottlenecks on major interstate highways too, according to port staff.

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“This is terrific news for the Port of Baltimore,” Maryland Port Administration-Port of Baltimore Executive Director William Doyle said. “Improving intermodal rail operations is one of our top priorities and the infrastructure improvements made possible through this grant will seamlessly complement our Howard Street Tunnel expansion project which is now underway.  Our rail service from the Port of Baltimore to the Midwest is already increasing as we pick up shippers diverting around congested gateways.”  

The CSX-Howard Street Tunnel expansion project will allow for double-stacked container rail cars, clearing a longtime hurdle for the Port and giving the East Coast seamless double-stack capacity from Maine to Florida.

The project involves clearance improvements in the 127-year-old tunnel and at 21 other locations between Baltimore and Philadelphia, according to port staff.

With the tunnel expansion project, Baltimore will be able to send double-stacked containers by rail into the Ohio Valley and onto Chicago, port staff said. 

Groundbreaking on the project occurred in November 2021 and the project is scheduled to be completed in 2025.   

The expansion is expected to increase the port’s business by about 160,000 containers annually. It will also generate about 6,550 construction jobs and an additional 7,300 jobs from the increased business, port staff said.

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CBS Baltimore Staff