Overview: The Susquehanna River Bridge is the longest movable bridge on the entire NEC, approximately three quarters of a mile long. Completed in 1906, the bridge connects Havre de Grace and Perryville, MD, offering riders stunning views of the Chesapeake Bay.
Of the three major bridges in Maryland, the Susquehanna River Bridge is perhaps the worst bottleneck and arguably the most badly in need of replacement. The bridge constricts the NEC down to two tracks and restricts speeds to 90 mph in an otherwise 120-mph territory due to its design and aging components that cannot support faster trains. Susquehanna is required to open approximately a dozen times per year for boats to pass, but its current design is not suited for the task. A crew of over 30 workers is required to manually open the bridge, essentially de-constructing and re-constructing the railroad each time. The process of opening Susquehanna is much more expensive than opening a modern-day movable bridge, which would require just one bridge operator.
The state of Maryland and Amtrak are planning to replace Susquehanna. In 2011, the state was awarded a $22-million HSIPR grant to initiate preliminary engineering and environmental review of new bridge facilities. Plans may include a new two-track fixed bridge, serving primarily passengers trains, that would be high enough to let boats pass without opening and a second two-track bridge that would serve freight trains and other passenger service. The design of the second bridge would be coordinated with existing freight users. Investments in new bridge infrastructure over the Susquehanna would greatly increase speeds for Amtrak and MARC trains, improve reliability, lower operating costs, and support increased service for all passenger and freight operators.