Maglev as an opportunity for DC to underground through traffic on New York Avenue
Despite the existence of what are called "metropolitan planning organizations" which were created by the US Department of Transportation in association with local metropolitan areas, to coordinate transportation planning across jurisdictions in a metropolitan area and to some extent between metropolitan areas, this may not really happen if the MPO is relatively weak relative to other transportation agencies, or when borders cross state lines, etc.
Even different agencies within a state or local government may not coordinate very well or have such different agendas that they don't coordinate.
Dis-coordination. Not quite 20 years ago, a colleague Steve Pinkus used the term "dis-coordinated" to refer to how transit "works" in Baltimore, and I've never forgotten his use of that term.
Baltimore's problem is that it has one truncated subway line and one light rail line that mostly follows an old industrial railroad right of way. They have a couple lines, but not a network ("From the files: transit planning in Baltimore County").
For profit transportation firms aren't interested in playing well with others. Besides the example of how hard it is for passenger rail to co-exist with freight railroads, now that for profit entities are more involved in pushing new transportation technologies and modes things are even more complicated, because for profits focused on their mission have zero interest in working with others, unless there are marginal economic benefits to doing so.
Contributing in ways that make the entire transportation system work better is as they would say in the UK, "not in our remit."
I've been meaning to write about this in terms of a couple of examples. In Boston, The Federal Realty paid for a station on the Orange line to serve their development but it turns out that they didn't configure the station to be very accessible from the other side--the side where New Balance isn't, making it hard and expensive to open up that side of the station to other users ("Plans to connect Encore property with Orange Line move closer to reality," Boston Globe). From the article:
The Assembly Station was subsidized by Federal Realty Investment Trust, the main company behind the massive — and massively successful — Assembly Row development. So the station opens inward, next to Partners HealthCare’s new tower, and not to the riverside park on the other side of the tracks.And Brightline/Virgin Trains in South Florida, which I want to write about in another context in terms of promoting railroad passenger services, is expanding stations in a number of places in Dade County, but this then diminishes opportunities for the regional commuter railroad ("Amid Brightline's new flash, whither Tri-Rail?," Palm Beach Post; "Tri-Rail into downtown Miami awaits Brightline's action," Miami Today News).
Government may not work well with for profit competitors either. But governments aren't very good either at integrating the for profits into the transportation planning and operations mix either ("Another example of the need to reconfigure transpo planning and operations at the metropolitan scale: Boston is seizing dockless bike share bikes, which compete with their dock-based system"), at least in Boston.
German style transport associations bring all actors together. What I recommend is that regions create German style transport associations, bringing all the transportation operators and planners together in one body ("The answer is: Create a single multi-state/regional multi-modal transit planning, management, and operations authority association") so that coordination and integration can happen.
While Governor Hogan of Maryland isn't particularly supportive of intro-metropolitan area transit, judging by his unwillingness to fund Metrorail in the DC area, grudging agreement to continue the Purple Line light rail project, but cancelling the Baltimore Red Line, and his general interest in promoting road projects, cutting tolls, etc., he is interested in Maglev ("Hogan calls maglev ride 'incredible,' says state will seek $28 million grant to study," Baltimore Sun).
The Northeast Maglev company is aiming to create a Maglev system in the Northeast and they've got Gov. Hogan on board to start with a segment between Baltimore and Washington.
The study for federal approval is underway ("Federal review of Baltimore-Washington high-speed maglev project ‘paused’," Washington Post). Recent media reporting has focused on growing opposition ("Maryland towns gear up to fight proposed high-speed train," WP).
Could a double stack tunnel be used for maglev and freeway through traffic on New York Avenue? But the first thing I thought of when I read the article on the postponement of the federal study, and the mentioning of how the main station for the line in Washington, DC would be in the Mount Vernon area, meaning the line would come through DC under New York Avenue (which connects to the BWI Parkway, where the line would run underneath), was how the initial recommendation in the c. 2006 DC Department of Transportation New York Avenue Corridor Study for the "undergrounding" of how New York Avenue in DC connects I-95 in Maryland to I-395/I-95 in Virginia could be realized through a doublestack tunnel for the maglev trains and the freeway.
The Highway 99 Tunnel in Seattle is double stacked, with northbound traffic on one level and southbound traffic on the other.
Many years ago, concerning the Silver Line Metrorail in Northern Virginia, advocates proposed a double stack tunnel configuration which could have supported express services.
In Downtown San Francisco, the Muni Metro and BART run in a double stack tunnel called the Market Street Subway.
I am not an engineer. I don't know if the requirements for maglev and vibrations make such a double stack tunnel proposal out of reach.
Yes it would be expensive. But it would probably be cheaper to do "two projects in one" rather than either or neither.
Too rarely, big projects position themselves around complementary benefits. But separately, were I running the project, to ward off opposition, I'd be discussing benefits to the existing residents from the project.
While we can tout benefits from being at the forefront of implementing new transportation technologies, that doesn't really add much value to the lives of average citizens.
But tunneling through traffic for New York Avenue in DC, and similarly, using the Maglev project in Maryland as a way to drive forward comparable improvements to the BWI Parkway ("Hogan wants Maryland to take over Baltimore-Washington Parkway," Sun) ought to be seen as big benefits for those respective communities.
But unfortunately, our planning system now doesn't aim to leverage and create such opportunities.