Maglev task force questioned

March 19, 2002|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

Republican delegates who oppose a proposed high-speed train connecting Baltimore and Washington are questioning the timing and the objectivity of a proposed task force to study the issue.

The legislation creating that task force, which lawmakers are to discuss today, would set up a panel of state officials to evaluate the proposed 250-mph magnetic levitation, or maglev, train that Maryland has been trying to land since the early 1990s.

The Federal Railroad Administration will decide next year whether Maryland or Pittsburgh will get the right to go ahead with the project, expected to cost $3.8 billion.

Republicans who oppose taxpayer funding for the project worry that the task force proposed in the bill introduced by House Majority Leader Maggie L. McIntosh would be little more than a rubber stamp.

"You will see nothing but proponents on this task force," said House Minority Leader Alfred W. Redmer Jr., a Perry Hall Republican. "This is not something that, in my opinion, will determine whether it's good or bad. This assures that maglev is a good idea."

The bill calls for a task force consisting of several state officials, including the transportation secretary, the secretary of business and economic development, and two delegates and two senators.

Del. John R. Leopold said forming a task force now is "like closing the door after the horses have already left the barn" because the money has been appropriated.

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