Linthicum residents stage protest outside meeting for maglev train

High-speed railroad sought by MTA will ruin neighborhood, they say

March 14, 2002|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

Waving signs that read "MTA - go another way" and "Maglev, Shmaglev," more than 100 Linthicum residents protested yesterday outside Lindale Middle School as state officials inside outlined plans for the hotly contested high-speed train.

Maglev, a 250-mph train that would ferry passengers from Baltimore to Washington in 16 minutes, is not a certainty for the region. Maryland has been trying to win the right to build the train - and the $950 million in federal money to help pay for it - since the Federal Railroad Administration announced in 1992 that the funds were available.

Transportation officials will decide next year whether Baltimore or Pittsburgh wins the competition for the magnetic levitation train, which is expected to be running by 2010.

Yesterday, as the Maryland Transit Administration and its consultants presented maps with brightly colored lines showing the three proposed maglev routes, protesters braved the rain.

Over chants of neighborhood children - "Train, train, go away" - residents talked about the traffic and noise from frequent flights and the Maryland Transit Administration's light rail line.

Many said it doesn't matter which route the MTA picks when it presents its maglev proposal to federal transportation officials in the fall. All three routes run through Linthicum, which borders Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

"It's going to ruin a lot of people's lives. It's going to ruin the neighborhood," said Sharon Wunder, whose family has lived in the area for five generations.

Wunder was among those who rallied neighbors after learning at a community meeting last month that the proposed routes showed the train running through back yards and flowerbeds. Though the MTA has modified the routes, many residents could see that the pink route lines on the MTA maps still crossed over their homes.

Calling themselves CALMR - Citizens Against the Linthicum Maglev Route - the Linthicum protesters have captured in recent days the attention of some Republican state delegates, who have vowed to fight funding for maglev and studies relating to the project.

The project is expected to cost about $3.8 billion, with Maryland responsible for $500 million.

Most of the protesters remained outside yesterday, but more than 300 residents dropped into the MTA session through the evening, peppering officials with questions about noise, speed, sound barriers and ridership.

Diane Ratcliff, the MTA's manager of environmental planning, said she expects the agency to return to the community with revisions as it hears their concerns.

"This isn't a one-time thing," she said.

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