A new $20 million grant will go towards completing final design of a new rail bridge to replace the exisisting, 115-year-old bridge. Photo: Susquehanna River Rail Bridge Project

115-Year-Old Susquehanna River Trail Bridge to be Replaced Thanks to $20 Million Design Grant

The project to replace the Susquehanna River Rail Bridge is getting closer to reality with the announcement of $20 million in funding to complete the final design work.

The bridge is 115 years old, serving as the main rail connector between Havre de Grace and Perryville, Md. The two-track bridge carries all Amtrak service, MARC commuter trains and freight on the Northeast Corridor main line.

The new bridge aims to reduce or eliminate train delays, allow trains to move faster, increase capacity and safety and improve the navigation channel for boaters.

Safety has been a concern a couple of times in recent years. As Bay Bulletin reported, heavy wind gusts in March 2018 caused four CSX cars to derail on the bridge and go plunging into the Susquehanna River below.

In August 2019, something caused the rail bridge to catch fire, which made for an interesting scene with a fire boat shooting not one, but two hoses vertically several feet above onto the bridge. Luckily, neither case resulted in any injuries.

In addition to a safer rail crossing, the new bridge will be more convenient for mariners. It will have a higher clearance above the river and feature a moveable span that can more efficiently open and close to maritime traffic.

Maryland federal lawmakers announced the $20 million for the new bridge design will come from the Federal State Partnership State of Good Repair Grant Program funds through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In a joint statement, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (all D-Md.) said, “Upgrading Maryland’s bridges means shortening Marylanders’ commutes, improving their safety, bolstering reliable freight transportation, and strengthening our supply chains.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano