State board OKs contract with CSX to extend rail service to Frederick

September 25, 1997|By William F. Zorzi Jr. | William F. Zorzi Jr.,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Suzanne Wooton contributed to this article.

The Board of Public Works approved a long-awaited operating agreement between the state and CSX Transportation yesterday, clearing the way for extending Maryland's commuter rail service between Washington and Frederick.

While commuter rail service to Frederick is still more than two years away, the approval allows the state to move ahead with the first phase of a $50 million project to build the connection -- a move designed in part to ease traffic congestion along the Interstate 270 corridor.

The public works board, which consists of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein and Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, blessed the contract, which provides for the state to pay CSX $69 million to operate the commuter service through December 1999.

"This is great news for the commuters of Frederick, the county and the whole [Interstate] 270 corridor," Glendening said.

The new agreement calls for six Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) trains to serve the Western Maryland city, providing four new trains to Frederick and two trains to be rerouted there from the line that now terminates in Brunswick.

State transportation officials are projecting that by the year 2005, the Frederick service will attract 1,600 daily commuters -- many of whom now use I-270 between Frederick and the Capital Beltway.

The agreement also provides for new rail service between Camden and Penn stations in Baltimore, state transit officials said.

The Frederick project -- 80 percent of which will be paid for with federal funds -- calls for about 3.5 miles of track to be rehabilitated and a new station to be constructed outside the city at Route 355, officials said.

With the commuter rail contract resolved, Maryland is likely to endorse CSX and Norfolk Southern Corp.'s $10 billion deal to take over Conrail.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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