The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the new Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) rail station. The project includes adding a fourth track to nine miles of the Northeast Corridor surrounding BWI and reconfiguring the platforms to allow boarding from all four tracks.
“The current rail station and infrastructure at BWI was built more than 30 years ago and does not support today’s needs or the region’s expected growth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The completion of the environmental review for this project brings BWI one step closer to a safer rail station, reduced rail congestion and increased reliability.”
Beyond Traffic, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s draft framework for the future, projects a population growth of 70 million more Americans over the next 30 years. The Northeast megaregion, which includes the area of Baltimore, among others, is projected to add an additional 18.4 million people during this time, a 35.2 percent growth from 2010.
FRA completed the environmental assessment and preliminary engineering, which will allow final design and then construction to begin. Funding for final design and construction has not yet been identified.
Both Amtrak and Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) trains provide passenger rail service at the station, which has seen increased ridership by daily commuters and airline passengers. The station is Amtrak’s thirteenth busiest station in the country.
Currently, there are only three tracks between the Grove Interlocking to the south near Odenton, Md. and the Winans Interlocking to the north near Halethorpe, Md. The addition of a fourth track would increase rail capacity and reliability.
“A new BWI rail station will allow both airline and rail passengers to get to their destinations safely, reliably and efficiently,” said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Today’s announcement is a significant step toward achieving that goal.”
In Fiscal Year 2010, FRA awarded a $9.4 million High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to the Maryland Department of Transportation to fund the environmental analysis and conduct preliminary engineering work.