New Bi-level Bridge Proposal Challenges Amtrak's Dual Bridge Plan For Susquehanna


The Susquehanna River Rail Bridge in Havre de Grace. (Credit: Elizabeth Janney/ Patch)

HAVRE DE GRACE - On Tuesday, Perryville Mayor Matt Roath announced a new proposal to create a bi-level rail bridge across the Susquehanna, challenging Amtrak's original plans to build two new bridges.

AmeriStarRail, in collaboration with Kleinfelder and Toole Design, propose that Amtrak and Maryland DOT finance and build just one bi-level bridge to be completed by 2030 without demolishing the current bridge. This would allow the existing Amtrak bridge to be converted into the "Trailway Across the Susquehanna," a new pathway for bicyclists and hikers.

The proposed "Trailway Across the Susquehanna." (Image Credit: AmeriStarRail LLC.)

According to Roath, the proposal has been sent to Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Members of Congress, and officials at Maryland DOT and Amtrak.

"This railroad bridge has and will continue to bear a significant impact not just upon the residents of our community, but upon residents of the East Coast and those across the entire country," Roath said. "After months of research and discussion with officials at AmeriStarRail and considering the multitude of economic and recreational benefits their proposal provides as opposed to the current Amtrak plans being pursued, the Town of Perryville strongly supports the consideration and thorough vetting of the Bicentennial Bridge of American Railroads and the Trailway Across the Susquehanna concepts."

The Susquehanna River Bridge is the longest movable bridge on the Northeast Corridor. According to Amtrak, more than 110 Amtrak and MARC passenger and freight trains cross the two-track bridge daily. The current bridge suffers from capacity limitations, which require trains to slow down to a maximum of 90 mph while crossing.

According to AmeriStarRail, the bi-level bridge solution will eliminate direct operating conflicts between Amtrak trains, MARC commuter trains, and Norfolk Southern freight trains, allowing Amtrak trains to operate up to 200 mph between Wilmington and Baltimore.

"Eliminating the wear and tear of sharing high-speed tracks with slow, heavy freight trains is essential for operating smooth, safe, and reliable Amtrak high-speed service at commercially competitive speeds up to 200 mph," AmeriStarRail's Chief Operating Officer Scott Spencer said. "This bi-level bridge will provide Amtrak's Northeast Corridor with the world-class solution of a flyover to operate high-speed trains on the upper level and slow commuter and freight trains on the lower level to eliminate direct operating conflicts at the Perryville junction."

In the letter to Governor Moore, AmeriStarRail also proposed saving the historic 1866 Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad piers of the first railroad bridge across the Susquehanna, vital links between the North and South after the Civil War.

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