By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA Newswire
(NNPA) – During a trip to Baltimore on Monday, Jan. 30, President Joe Biden announced plans to replace the 150-year-old Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, which is a major component of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The White House stated that the project would address the Northeast Corridor’s largest rail bottleneck between Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, as well as create “good-paying union jobs,” improve reliability, reduce commuting times, and improve safety and resilience.
The program is expected to create 30,000 jobs, including 20,000 direct construction jobs, the majority of which do not require a college degree.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act invests $66 billion in passenger rail, the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak’s inception.
Amtrak has also agreed to invest more than $50 million in local workforce development and community investments, including apprenticeship programs, to ensure that West Baltimore residents have access to those jobs.
Furthermore, the White House announced that Maryland and Amtrak have signed a project kickoff agreement, which includes a $450 million commitment from the state’s transportation agency for the tunnel replacement project.
It also includes a project labor agreement signed by Amtrak and the Baltimore-DC Building and Construction Trades Council, a local affiliate of the Building Trades Unions of North America (NABTU).
This is expected to cover the first phase of the project, ensuring that good-paying union jobs are created.
Furthermore, an agreement exists between Amtrak and NABTU that ensures Amtrak’s large civil engineering construction projects will be performed under union agreements.
Wages, benefits, working conditions, avoiding work disruption, and promoting diversity and veteran hiring in the construction trades will all be addressed in these agreements.
According to the White House, with the agreement, Amtrak and NABTU will not face labor-related delays in major project planning and contracting; contractors and subcontractors will share Amtrak’s commitment to paying fair wages and benefits; and Amtrak and NABTU will be able to move forward with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-funded projects with efficient labor-management relations.