Here's the rail projects that weren't funded
The good new this morning was the $70 million Maryland received out of $8 billion the Obama administration allocated Thursday for high-speed rail projects. Maryland's share will go toward two important projects for the state -- replacement of Baltimore's ancient Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel on the Amtrak Northeast Corridor and replacement of the far-too-small Amtrak/MARC station at BWI.
But those two projects were only two of seven on the state's original wish list totaling $360 million.
Getting $70 million out of a $360 million request might not sound like much, but it was a better performance that the national average. The Obama administration received $57 billion in proposals for a share of $8 billion in high-speed rail funds allocated under last year's stimulus bill -- meaning that $1 was granted for roughly every $9 requested nationwide. Maryland received better than $1 for every $6 requested.
Here's the five Maryland projects that didn't make the cut after No. 1 and No. 2 were granted:
3. Replace Three Rail Bridges as part of the Northern Maryland Capacity and Trip Time Improvement Program - $200 Million: The funding would provide engineering and studies to advance replacement of the Bush, Susquehanna and Gunpowder bridges. The new three-track bridges would replace the existing two-track bridges, greatly increasing passenger service to better meet the demands of high-speed rail that Amtrak requires. Currently, Amtrak, MARC and freight must go slower speeds as they cross these bridges.
4. Wedge Yard - $36 million: The funding would provide final design and construction of a six-track yard in the Washington Terminal to reduce congestion and alleviate overcrowding of intercity and commuter trains stored at Union Station to increase capacity in the corridor. This project would allow MARC trains, which now have to head all the way back to Baltimore during the day, to remain at Union Station until they are needed for the afternoon rush hour. The Wedge Yard also would store Amtrak trains overnight.
5. Chesapeake Connector - $25 million: The funding would provide engineering and studies to advance a grade separation and a third track from Perryville to Elkton to improve safety and increase Amtrak and freight capacity. The grade separation would improve freight movement to the Port of Baltimore by allowing freight trains 24-hour access to the Port through this connection. Currently, freight traffic is limited to running trains between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
6. Positive Train Control (PTC) - $10 million: This funding would provide MARC with a GPS-based train locating system. This system will allow MARC to run more efficiently and safely while working with compatible planned systems for Amtrak and CSX. This funding would provide equipment for trains running on the Amtrak / MARC Penn Line and Brunswick Line.
7. Brunswick Line Signaling Improvements - $18.3 million: This funding would update railway signaling between Silver Spring and Brunswick for expanded capacity and would improve service reliability on the CSXT Metropolitan Subdivision, serving intercity passenger rail, MARC and freight trains.
These aren't projects that will go away. They're simply likely to come back another day in another form -- whether in the state transportation budget, a federal appropriation or a future grant.