Howard executive joins critics of maglev

Robey's opposition seen as blow to proposed train

May 02, 2002|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

With opposition growing in Maryland to the proposed $3.5 billion maglev train, Howard County Executive James N. Robey joined the critics yesterday.

Robey, who is also chairman of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, waited to take a position on the disputed train while elected officials from Howard and Anne Arundel counties lined up against it.

A cautious politician who normally supports regional transportation and economic development efforts, Robey's decision against maglev can only hurt efforts to bring it to the area, supporters said.

In a letter to Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari, Robey noted that the train's route could affect up to 153 homes and 182 businesses, and could include as many as 41 stream crossings.

"In my estimation, the maglev project and any proposed alignment which causes adverse impacts of this magnitude is unacceptable unless and until such effects can be substantially mitigated," he said. The cost is too high, he added, and money should be spent "to better support our existing and planned rail services."

State transportation officials acknowledged Robey's comments, and spokeswoman Suzanne Bond said they realize maglev has "regional benefits and local impacts."

Local critics welcomed Robey's support, while maglev supporters bemoaned his move.

"I'm ecstatic that Robey has taken a position. He's on the right course," said Del. Frank S. Turner, a Columbia Democrat who is chairman of Howard's delegation.

But Donald P. Hutchinson, a former Baltimore County executive who is director of the Greater Baltimore Committee, called the decision "very shortsighted" and due to the pressures of an election year. The train will "relieve burdens on counties like Howard," he said.

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