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A Monorail in Maryland? It's being proposed to relieve traffic along the I-270 corridor

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 10/30/2020 Tom Roussey (ABC7)
a train is parked on the side of a road © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

A local organization is about to release a report its president says will show building a monorail would be an economically sensible way to relieve traffic between Frederick and the Shady Grove Metro station.

When many people hear the word monorail, they likely think of Disney World or a classic episode of “The Simpsons” in which the town of Springfield builds a monorail based on a pitch by a con artist.

But Bob Eisinger, president of the pro-monorail High Road Foundation, says they’ve been studying the idea for years, and a monorail in Maryland would have strong advantages.

“Each step we take – it confirms the viability of it,” he told ABC7 by phone.

While a public-private partnership to build the light-rail Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties has turned into a mess for the state of Maryland, Eisinger says the proposed monorail would have a much smaller chance of unexpected problems and delays.

“You won’t have issues like the Purple Line,” he said. “We’re talking about something that’s elevated and goes down an existing right of way.”

Eisinger says that would be one of the great advantages – the state wouldn’t have to acquire more land.

The proposed route would start near the MARC train station in Frederick, then quickly join I-270 where the elevated monorail would go on the east side of the interstate until Germantown, where it would leave I-270 and use other public rights of way to go to the Metropolitan Grove MARC station in Gaithersburg and then to the Shady Grove Metro station.

In all, there would be six stops – Frederick, Urbana, Comsat (in Clarksburg), Germantown, Metropolitan Grove, and Shady Grove. The route would run 27 miles.

Eisinger says the cost to build it would be $127 million a mile, which would come out to well over $3 billion. He says extending Metro’s Red Line to Frederick instead would cost nearly three times that much.

ALSO READ: Metro expects pandemic-related ridership troubles to continue into 2022

The Maryland Department of Transportation confirmed to ABC7 it is doing its own separate study of the idea.

Spokesperson Erin Henson emailed the following statement:

“As studies have shown, the National Capital Region can benefit from multiple options including increased telework, transit, and managed lanes for long-term congestion relief. We are committed to finding all possible solutions to relieve congestion for the citizens of Maryland. MDOT always has looked to innovation and technology to deliver the best transportation network in the nation, which is why we have been conducting the monorail feasibility study due out later this fall.”

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