Maglev's Benefits for BaltimoreIn his Nov. 6 letter...


November 18, 1992

Maglev's Benefits for Baltimore

In his Nov. 6 letter, Kenneth Sands wrote regarding the $900,000 contract to study the feasibility of maglev in Maryland. With all the high technology companies located in our area, we are in a unique position to play a major role in the development of maglev.

But Mr. Sands has also raised some valid concerns about maglev which I would like to address.

This study we are about to undertake is to evaluate the best route for a maglev to link Washington and Baltimore and to assess various transportation integration issues.

The study is not to develop maglev technology or to prove the viability of the technology. That is being done by the federal government through a comprehensive maglev program.

In fact, Martin Marietta, a member of the team conducting our study, was involved in studies sponsored by the federal government to look at such issues as safety and brings that background to our local study.

Regarding his concern with vandalism, I would like to quote Dr. Richard J. Gran, who leads the effort by Grumman's team to develop an American technology: "Mr. Sands correctly worries about the possibility of a collision between a vehicle that is traveling at 300 miles per hour and an object on the guideway . . .

"In our design we raise the guideway structure so that it clears all overpasses -- there is no way that someone can get above the guideway to 'drop' something on it.

"In addition, since the guideway is raised, it is very difficult for anyone to find a way to climb onto the guideway and interfere with the moving vehicles.

"Mr. Sands also expresses a common worry about the magnetic fields that are generated by maglev. Once again this is an issue that we too are concerned about. Our design has magnetic fields in the passenger compartment that are at the same levels as the magnetic field on the Earth."

While Mr. Sands is correct in that no American technology has been road-tested, there are maglev systems operating very efficiently in Germany and Japan. Maglev was developed first in America and now with renewed federal support we have the opportunity to demonstrate our technological superiority by creating a more efficient system that is less costly than that of the Germans or Japanese.

Maglev has the potential of alleviating infrastructure problems by reducing both ground and air traffic congestion; solving pollution problems with emission-free transportation; decreasing this country's need for foreign fossil fuel, and creating a significant new revenue base and potentially lucrative export market.

Baltimore has the opportunity to be in the vanguard of this development. Locally, we see it providing jobs, increasing tourism and enhancing Baltimore as a location for businesses and housing for those who want access to the District of Columbia.

Phyllis M. Wilkins


The writer is executive director of Maglev-Maryland.

Plea to Legislators

This week the Maryland General Assembly will hold a special session in Annapolis to deal with the state's fiscal crisis. Speaker pro tem Nancy Kopp predicts a most difficult and frustrating session at best.

I predict that more gridlock, political opportunism, horse trading antics and the art of filibuster are bound to cost we, the people, $17,000 per day for every day they meet.

As a voting, tax-paying citizen, I would hope to see the members of the General Assembly put their differences aside and work together as a team.

They should rededicate themselves to the process in serving the people of Maryland and not in their own self-interests.

Paula Baziz


Solid Record

Your Nov. 1 article on the Maryland Biotechnology Institute references statements by M. James Barrett that the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology has a poor record for economic development because it has produced only one patent.

Such criticisms do not reflect the reality of CARB's mission and its successful interactions with industry both in Maryland and elsewhere in the country.

CARB is a unique entity that was formed as a partnership between the University of Maryland, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and Montgomery County.

CARB is staffed by 11 principal scientists (six from MBI and five from NIST), guest scientists, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and technicians.

This mix of state, local and federal co-operation has been highly successful and should serve as a model for the development of research institutes for the future.

CARB develops molecular models of protein structures and characterizes the properties and interactions of biological macromolecules.

This mission requires that hands-on collaborative research with industry, rather than the creation of patents, be the primary mode of technology transfer. This is precisely why CARB has been working directly with industry through most of its short life.

CARB staff members have formal collaborative research agreements with companies such as IBM, ICN Biomedicals, Procter & Gamble and Cray Research.

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