Village board in Columbia opposes maglev

Kings Contrivance panel joins growing criticism of the high-speed train

May 16, 2002|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

The Kings Contrivance Village Board voted 3-0 last night to oppose a high-speed train that might run along Interstate 95 adjacent to the Columbia community.

"I don't see anything at all that is a benefit to Howard County at all," said Barbara Seely, chairwoman of the board of directors. "I don't even know why they're considering this."

The board will send formal letters of opposition to state transportation officials as well as politicians.

The board is one of a growing number of community groups opposed to the train, known as maglev.

The project, which would cost an estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion in state, federal and private funds, features trains that could travel more than 240 mph and would connect Baltimore and Washington with a stop at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The Maryland Transit Administration, which is planning the project in this region on behalf of the federal government, is considering three routes. One would run along I-95, a second near the current Amtrak line, and another near the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

State officials are expected to eliminate one or possibly two of those routes from consideration in early June.

One of two sites

The Baltimore-Washington region is competing with the Pittsburgh area for the project. Federal transportation officials are expected to choose a location for the experimental line next year. Construction could begin in 2005.

Although MTA officials said last night that the project could reduce noise and air pollution by taking nearly 30,000 vehicles a day off area roads, many local residents were worried about noise and safety.

"It's going to severely impact the value of our homes and the quality of our life," said Linda Owen, who lives in the 800 block of Red Jacket Way, near the intersection of Route 32 and I-95.

Many opponents

Many politicians and business people agree with Owen.

Howard County Executive James N. Robey recently wrote a letter to state officials opposing the project, which he believes would be too expensive and would not provide enough services to local residents.

The Anne Arundel County Council passed a resolution last month opposing the project.

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is running for governor, criticized the MTA's management of the project this week. She said that Anne Arundel and Howard counties have not been included in the planning process early enough.

Rouse Co. in opposition

Officials with the Rouse Co. also have been loud opponents. The company is in the final stages of planning Emerson - a large residential and commercial development, which will straddle I-95 near Route 216. The threat of train has hurt home sales, they said.

Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Howard Democrat who attended last night's meeting, urged residents to contact state officials. The public comment phase of the first planning stage will end tomorrow.

"Remember to let them know what you think," she said.

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