Amtrak prepares for $1.5-billion Susquehanna River Rail Bridge replacement project

Nov. 22, 2022
The railroad plans to issue solicitations in the coming months for a design-bid-build contract and a construction manager at risk contract.

Amtrak is advancing the planned replacement of the 116-year-old Susquehanna River Rail Bridge with two new bridges that will increase capacity and improve reliability of both freight and passenger trains.

The existing structure is the Northeast Corridor’s (NEC) longest moveable bridge, where crossing the bridge requires trains to slow to a speed of 90 mph, resulting in capacity and reliability constraints. To resolve this issue, two newly constructed two-track fixed bridges will replace the existing two-track movable bridge, along with five miles of additional track realignment and construction. The estimated construction cost for the bridge replacement project is $1.5 billion.

“The bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad at the turn of the 20th century, and while it was well-constructed and remains safe, it is a significant bottleneck on the Northeast Corridor,” said Amtrak Executive Vice President, Capital Delivery, Laura Mason. “Once complete, both new bridges will reduce trip time and improve reliability for passenger and freight trains that rely on this critical connection.”

The bridge is in Harford County, Md., and is used by more than 110 Amtrak, Maryland Area Regional Commuter rail and Norfolk Southern trains per day. In addition to the new structures, the overhead power, signal, safety and security systems will be modernized.

Upcoming procurements

In the coming months, Amtrak says it will issue solicitations for a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) for the construction of the new bridges and a Design-Bid-Build (DBB) contract for enabling works.

Amtrak is inviting firms interested in the program to attend an industry day in December 2022 to learn more about the project. Interested contractors should monitor Amtrak’s Procurement Portal located here for further information about Industry Day. The Procurement Portal will offer additional solicitation information and submittal requirements. Attendance at Industry Day is not required to submit a proposal but is highly encouraged.

Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) plan to award both contracts in 2023.

As a funding partner for the project, the MDOT MTA has committed $3 million toward a design grant that was recently awarded. Amtrak and MDOT MTA are in discussions about jointly pursuing additional grant funding for the cost of construction under the Federal State Partnership Program.

“We are pleased to invest $3 million to partner with Amtrak to complete final design on the Susquehanna Bridge,” said MDOT MTA Administrator Holly Arnold. “The Susquehanna Bridge provides a critical link for service to the north, and this project will provide improvements to MARC Train capacity, trip time and safety.

“The Federal Railroad Administration is proud of the federal investments being made in the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project. We are eager to see those investments move Amtrak riders, commuters and freight faster and more efficiently,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.