The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today signaled its approval for a proposed new rail station at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), after the agency issued a “finding of no significant impact” in its environmental assessment of the project.
The finding allows Maryland to secure funds for the station’s final design and construction. The project includes adding a fourth track to 9 miles of the Northeast Corridor surrounding BWI and reconfiguring platforms to allow boarding from all four tracks, according to an FRA press release.
Amtrak and Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) trains provide passenger-rail service at the station, where ridership by daily commuters and airline passengers has been increasing. Amtrak considers the station its 13th busiest in the nation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation projects a population growth of 70 million more Americans over the next 30 years. The Northeast megaregion, which includes Baltimore, is projected to add 18.4 million people over that time period.
“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.”
Currently, only three tracks exist between the Grove Interlocking to the south near Odenton, Md., and the Winans Interlocking to the north near Halethorpe, Md. Adding a fourth track would increase rail capacity and reliability, FRA officials said.
“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, the 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 pay for the environmental analysis and conduct preliminary engineering work.
Funding for final design and construction has not yet been identified.