Skanska-Fay Joint Venture selected for Howard Street Tunnel Project, elevating I-95 freight rail infrastructure

Press release 12/22/2023 7:00 AM EST

Baltimore, MD (December 22, 2023) – A joint venture between leading global development and construction firm Skanska and Fay, S&B USA Construction, an industry leader in design-build projects, announces it has been selected for the Howard Street Tunnel Clearance Program, commonly known as the Howard Street Tunnel Project. This initiative will modernize the historic Howard Street Tunnel, an iconic structure with a rich 125-year legacy, that stands at the heart of Baltimore City along CSX Transportation's (CSXT) vital I-95 rail corridor.

The Howard Street Tunnel plays a pivotal role in CSXT's extensive rail network, connecting major urban centers along the bustling East Coast from Florida to New England. It holds particular significance by linking the Port of Baltimore's Seagirt Marine Terminal Intermodal Container Transfer Facility to key consumer markets in the Midwest.

“This ambitious undertaking is poised to have a far-reaching impact, beyond the confines of the Howard Street Tunnel itself,” said Keith Chouinard, senior vice president and general manager for Skanska USA Civil’s Mid-Atlantic region. “The enhancements introduced by this project are anticipated to amplify productivity at the Port of Baltimore and transform freight rail efficiency and capacity along the Mid-Atlantic corridor. The project's strategic contributions will foster economic growth, streamline logistics and strengthen the nation's transportation infrastructure.”

With an emphasis on accommodating double-stack trains and ensuring the tunnel's continued relevance, the Skanska-Fay JV will execute a comprehensive improvement that entails track-lowering and tunnel enlargement techniques across the 1.7-mile expanse of the Howard Street Tunnel to increase the tunnel height from 19 to 21 feet. Additionally, drainage improvements will be made throughout the track. Construction will be undertaken while trains are actively using the tracks. 

“Having worked on this corridor with CSX on several other projects, we know the importance in enabling the passage of double-stacked trains with the completion of this project while maintaining rail traffic during the construction of this project,” states Peter MacKenna, president and CEO of S&B USA Construction (parent company of Fay), “we will use our JV team’s design and construction expertise to safely achieve maximum clearances within the existing structure.”

The tunnel is divided into three main sections: a concrete box section, a cut-and-cover section, and a mined tunnel section. This combination presents a unique construction challenge due to the diverse methods used in its original construction. The Skanska-Fay JV’s innovative approach centers on optimizing track profiles and alignments within the existing structure, meticulously achieving the prescribed horizontal and vertical clearances.

Hatch will serve as the lead design engineer. The project is slated to commence in August 2023, with an anticipated completion in June 2027.