The Howard Street Tunnel (HST) Project consists of vertical clearance improvements along CSX’s I-95 Rail Corridor to allow double-stack trains (trains transporting shipping containers stacked on top of each other) to travel between Baltimore City, Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The primary obstacle to double-stack service along this corridor has been the Howard Street Tunnel, a 1.7-mile-long railroad passage under the heart of Baltimore City that was originally constructed in 1895. With current vertical clearances up to 18 inches less than the 21 feet necessary for double-stack, the HST and 21 other clearance obstructions currently restrict the ability to move double-stack trains along this section of CSX’s network, including to and from the Port of Baltimore.
Utilizing funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), CSX, the State of Maryland, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the HST Project will eliminate all remaining double-stack obstructions in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania between Baltimore City and Philadelphia. FRA is the lead federal agency and CSX is the project sponsor. The HST Project consists of the following work, at the following locations.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
The HST Project has been evaluated in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA process requires federal agencies to assess the potential environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions regarding the proposed action. The USDOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is the federal agency leading the NEPA process for this project. An Environmental Assessment (EA) document was prepared in accordance with NEPA and FRA’s NEPA implementing regulations to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the HST Project. The EA and associated appendices are available for review by clicking on the below links.
Appendix J - Draft Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)—The MOA was executed on May 25, 2021. A link to the final executed MOA is provided in the Section 106 Mitigation section below.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, traditional public open houses could not be offered as part of the EA comment period that ran from March 1, 2021 until April 13, 2021. Instead, the following video was produced that summarizes the HST Project’s purpose and need, scope of work and potential environmental impacts.
Following the EA comment period, FRA prepared a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document to respond to comments and incorporate project updates since the release of the EA. The FONSI and associated appendices are available for review by clicking the below link.
FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
The FONSI represents final NEPA approval for the HST Project. Since publication of the FONSI, CSX has continued to advance the project design and coordinate with FRA regarding any minor design changes. FRA will continue this coordination throughout the final design and construction process to ensure the FONSI remains valid, and all commitments identified through the NEPA process are fulfilled.
Section 106 Memorandum of Agreement
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended (Section 106), requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their actions on historic properties. Due to federal funding provided by USDOT to the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), and the potential for the HST Project to affect historic properties, it is considered an undertaking under Section 106. FRA is the lead federal agency and CSX is the project sponsor.
FRA conducted Section 106 consultation with the Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), federally recognized Indian tribes, and other consulting parties with interests in historic properties. Relevant documentation is provided in Appendix H, I, and K of the EA. FRA determined, in consultation with the Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania SHPOs and other consulting parties that the HST Project will have an adverse effect on seven historic architectural properties located in Maryland and Pennsylvania. FRA, the Maryland SHPO, the Pennsylvania SHPO, MDOT MPA, and CSX entered into a Section 106 MOA to resolve the adverse effects of the HST Project on those historic properties. The MOA was executed on May 25, 2021. CSX retained a qualified cultural resources consultant to support fulfillment of its responsibilities under the MOA.
The links below provide copies of the MOA and the products resulting from implementation of the MOA. This webpage will continue to be updated as additional documentation is finalized.
Executed Memorandum of Agreement Among the Federal Railroad Administration, Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer, Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer, Maryland Department of Transportation Port Administration, and CSX Transportation Regarding the Howard Street Tunnel Project, Baltimore City, Maryland and Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Howard Street Tunnel Section 106 MOA)
- Maryland Inventory of Historic Places (MIHP) survey files were updated pursuant to Stipulation IV.C. Update Historic Property Survey Files. Copies of the updated documentation are linked below:
- Five historic properties were recorded for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), pursuant to Stipulation IV.E. Historic American Engineering Record Documentation. The National Park Service accepted the documentation on June 22, 2023. Copies of the HAER recordation packages are linked below:
An interpretive sign for the Boone Tunnel was fabricated pursuant to Stipulation IV.F. Interpretive Display. This sign is on display at the Darby Free Library in Darby, Pennsylvania. It was delivered on January 25, 2023.
The following two historic properties will be adversely affected by the HST Project, but updates to the existing MIHP or Determination of Eligibility (DOE) forms were not required by the stipulations of the MOA. Copies of the existing documentation of these two resources are linked below:
To learn more about historic properties in the HST Project vicinity, please visit these external websites of relevant preservation and history-based organizations:
Project Next Steps
Following NEPA approval, CSX divided the HST Project into ten packages for final design and construction. CSX began construction at a track lowering package in Pennsylvania in early 2022 and continues to advance the remaining packages into construction as soon as designs are complete and permits are secured.