At ancient Baltimore tunnel that often delayed his travel, Biden touts 'long overdue' rail upgrades

Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun on

Published in Political News

BALTIMORE — With the ancient, dimly lit Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel behind him, President Joe Biden touted job creation and labor agreements Monday during a visit to Baltimore to highlight replacement of the tunnel, which has come to symbolize America’s crumbling infrastructure.

The White House billed the speech as a “kickoff event” for a $6 billion, federally funded project to replace a 4-mile section of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, including the mile-long, 19th-century B&P Tunnel, with two tubes that will allow trains to travel at 100 mph.

“This is just the beginning of having a 21st-century rail system so long overdue,” the Democratic president said.

As a U.S. senator, Biden commuted between his home state of Delaware and Washington on Amtrak for years. The president said had been through the tunnel 1,000 times while logging more than a million miles on the passenger railroad.

“He’s been stuck by the delays of this tunnel many times,” U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, said during the program.

The old tunnel, built during the administration of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, is considered a bottleneck for Amtrak and MARC commuter trains because it forces them to creep along at 30 mph or less.


After a MARC train slowly rolled by before Biden spoke, he said: “You know how important this is to commuter rail.”

“Over 2,200 trains run on this corridor every single day. It’s the busiest in the United States and one of the busiest in the world,” the president said.

Biden was greeted by Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, both Democrats, after his Marine One helicopter landed on a patch of grass at Fort McHenry about 1:40 p.m. They entered the same car in a motorcade that sped to the tunnel.

“Presence matters, and the fact that the president is making such an investment in us matters,” Moore said.


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