A 300 mile-an-hour train that could whisk Baltimore commuters to Washington (and vice versa) in 15 minutes would help energize and transform the two cities' economies into one large regional metropolis, the project's supporters said yesterday, but it will never happen without $500,000 for a feasibility study.
Funding for the $1 billion prototype magnetic levitation -- or "maglev" -- train, is being considered by Congress as part of the mammoth transportation reauthorization bill, according to William Boardman, a Washington consultant who is head of a coalition working to persuade Congress to build the prototype ,, line between Baltimore and Washington.
If Congress decides to build the line, a bill sponsored by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., would provide $500,000 in federal funds to conduct a study of the feasibility of building it in Maryland. But that money would have to be matched by $500,000 from some combination of state, local government and private funding, Mr. Boardman told a group of civic leaders who gathered at Southwestern High School yesterday.
The group of about 150 young executives -- from city government, private businesses and non-profit organizations -- was a reunion of sorts of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's "2020 vision conference" that met in April 1990 to set goals for Baltimore to reach by the year 2020.
The maglev briefing by Mr. Boardman and Jeff Middlebrooks, a vice president of Center City-Inner Harbor Management Inc., was intended to spark private-sector interest in the futuristic project, which could run on a guideway above Interstate 95.
"The spectacular nature of the maglev can create the perception as well as the reality of an incredible linkage between Baltimore and Washington," Mr. Middlebrooks said.
The group agreed that a maglev support committee ought to be formed, and Lee Tawney, an assistant to the mayor, said that he would relay to Mr. Schmoke the group's request that a chairman and a committee be appointed to spread the word about the potential benefits of a Baltimore-Washington maglev line.
Maryland is in competition with at least four other states -- Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington -- for the $1 billion project.