The State of Maryland is working with the Federal Railroad Administration to study the feasibility and potential environmental impacts of a new, high-speed rail system that connects DC and Baltimore called the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Project. Maglev (short for magnetic levitation) trains are driverless trains operated by superconducting magnets with operating speeds over 300 miles an hour. Maglev trains would make it possible to travel from New York City to Los Angeles in only 7 hours and from DC to Baltimore in 15 minutes!
While the Anacostia Watershed Society applauds innovations in technology that aim to improve transportation to more efficiently transport people and products in a safe and reliable manner, we have concerns about the potential impacts to the watershed and its inhabitants. We think this great idea is on the wrong track in the planning process.
Concerns and Considerations:
- The Maglev Project should use existing transportation corridors, rather than blaze through our protected parks and open space. How do the proposed routes work with existing infrastructure? Connections to MARC, Amtrak, Metro, highways, and trails need to be evaluated.
- As currently proposed, the train would not stop in Prince George’s County. This arrangement provides little benefit to the residents of Prince George’s County, yet would pose significant impacts to them.
- Why are the proposed sites of the service yards located in natural areas? Two options are in Prince George’s County and one is in Anne Arundel. These proposed locations overlap the Patuxent Environmental Center and the Beltsville Agricultural Center. Aren’t there any brownfield sites between DC and Baltimore that could use cleanup and repurposing? Floodplains, wetlands, and federal lands are the only places these service yards are being considered? Really?
- What offsets and mitigation are proposed for the expected environmental impact? Can we see a plan with net positive mitigation and benefits that includes water quality improvements, reduced carbon emissions, less particulate matter, reduced noise, increased reforestation, and the like?
- The cost-benefit analysis and environmental impact statements must be completed in a manner that allows an up or down decision instead of just supporting the project. Support of local communities, including those in the Anacostia Watershed, must be considered.
The project website does not advertise upcoming meetings, but we will continue to monitor this study and advertise opportunities for community input.