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1/19/2001



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Maglev advances in Maryland and Pennsylvania


U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater Jan. 18 announced that projects in Maryland and Pennsylvania were chosen from a field of seven to advance their plans for magnetically levitated high-speed rail systems.


"It has been extremely difficult to select from all of the meritorious projects," Slater said in a prepared statement. "But we must now focus the remaining effort and funding on the Maryland and Pennsylvania projects, the ones best positioned for early demonstration of Maglev’s promise."


The Maryland project would be a 40-mile line connecting Baltimore’s Camden Yard and Baltimore-Washington International Airport with Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. The project has been under study since 1994, and could provide transportation between sports venues in a bid for the 2012 Olympics.


The Pennsylvania project would be a 47-mile line linking Pittsburgh Airport to Pittsburgh and the city’s eastern suburbs. Maglev Inc. is developing the project; officials there believe such a line would serve commuters and air travelers, and bring steel fabrication technology to the region.


As the next step, project teams must refine ridership, revenue and cost estimates, its financial plan, strengthen sponsors’ financial commitments, and begin a site-specific environmental assessment; USDOT would provide $14 million for these tasks.


Upon completion, DOT would select a single project to be awarded $950 million in federal grants for construction under Section 1218 of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, subject to Congressional appropriation.


The original field of competitors included proposed projects in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Nevada. Slater urged these project architects to continue developing plans and seek alternative funding sources. Each is slated to receive nearly $1 million in federal funds, as specified by Congress in the fiscal-year 2001 appropriation.


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