Overview: The Gunpowder River Bridge, approximately one-mile long, carries Amtrak, MARC, and Norfolk Southern freight trains over a broad estuary connecting Chase and Joppa, MD. Among the NEC’s three major bridges in Maryland, Gunpowder is the only one that does not open for boats. The bridge was completed in 1913 and many of its components have badly deteriorated, increasing maintenance costs for Amtrak. Gunpowder’s two tracks restrict capacity on the NEC and result in freight trains, which rely on the bridge to cross the river, operating only at night when Amtrak and MARC trains are not running.
To address these issues, the state of Maryland and Amtrak are considering options for replacing Gunpowder with a higher-capacity bridge that would support increased service and reliability for Amtrak, MARC, and freight service. Plans will consider options that would separate freight and passenger trains, enabling both to run at all times of day.