Biden Inspects Tunnel, Promotes Infrastructure Law

President Biden recently revisited the Civil War-era rail tunnel between Philadelphia and Washington to announce his administration’s commitment of over $4 billion from his $1 trillion infrastructure plan to repair the old underground pathway. During his visit, the President highlighted the deterioration of the tunnel and the impact his infrastructure law will have on people’s daily lives, creating union jobs and improving their morning commute. Biden will be visiting New York City on Tuesday to celebrate the investment in another tunnel under the Hudson River and deliver a speech on his economic agenda in Philadelphia on Friday.

Despite these plans and visits, the White House must also convince voters that the infrastructure legislation will eventually result in tangible changes they can see and feel, even if some projects may take years to complete. However, the US is facing a structural labor shortage, which may hinder the progress of infrastructure projects. To address this, Biden showed his support for labor by announcing that Amtrak and local unions have agreed that union members will take charge of the construction of the renovated rail line in Baltimore.

The 1.4-mile tunnel under Baltimore will be renamed after Frederick Douglass, and the renovations are estimated to cost around $6 billion, with Maryland committing $450 million. Although the administration has not yet issued contracts for the development, it is expected to take several years to complete.

Biden’s visit to Baltimore highlights his personal connection with the city, as he frequently took the Amtrak from Delaware to Washington as a senator, earning him the nickname “Amtrak Joe.” The Amtrak trains approaching the tunnel must currently slow down to 30 mph, causing chronic delays for over 10% of weekday trains and slowdowns on 99% of weekdays. The new tunnel will have two tubes, softer curves, a new signaling system, and will also include new surrounding roadways and railroad bridges.

Despite the exciting prospects of the renovations, transportation advocacy group Transportation for America warns of a shortage of workers in the transportation industry and believes it will take some effort to create a labor force capable of supporting these once-in-a-lifetime projects.

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