School of Mines engineers: State should reconsider monorail technology |

School of Mines engineers: State should reconsider monorail technology

Bob Berwyn
Summit County Correspondent

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Conventional wisdom claims that the technology to run high-speed maglev bullet trains along the Interstate 70 corridor just doesn’t exist yet ” at least according to a consensus by community leaders who’ve developed a regionally preferred transportation plan for the highway corridor between Golden and Glenwood Springs.

But a pair of engineers associated with the Colorado School of Mines is challenging that assumption. Both Ed Rapp, a former professor at the university, as well as Dave Munoz, Ph.D., currently interim director of the school’s engineering division, say the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has all but suppressed a federal report that shows the feasibility of such a system.

It’s not a matter of technology or economics as it is of social and political will, Munoz said.

At issue is the future transportation capacity of the corridor. With statewide growth expected to continue, CDOT anticipates a huge surge in traffic along the I-70 corridor. A recently completed draft programmatic environmental study serves as a basis for devising a 20- to 50-year plan. A comment period on the draft plan ended last month, and CDOT plans to make a decision in about a year.

But the agency eliminated several transit options deemed too costly for exceeding a $4 billion spending cap that has been frequently criticized as arbitrary.

Both Rapp and Munoz said CDOT should had given more serious consideration to the Federal Transit Authority.

The June 2004 report studied a 155-mile stretch between DIA and the Eagle County Regional Airport and concluded that a high-tech transit system could be deployed along that corridor for a cost of about $38 million per mile.

While that cost exceeds CDOT’s $4 billion cap, the report makes it clear that the system studied by the FTA could “easily” operate at high speeds on grades up to 7 percent, and at reduced speed on grades up to 12 percent.

Rapp, advocating for mass transit on behalf of Clear Creek County at a recent public meeting in Frisco, claimed CDOT made up its mind to eliminate transit options and tilt toward highway widening long ago. He said the agency helped perpetuate the perception that mass transit isn’t technically feasible, and called on the agency to reconsider its position on maglev technology, based on the information in the FTA report.

Contact Bob Berwyn: (970) 668-3998, ext. 228

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