Plans for a high-tech, high-speed train that would run between D.C. and New York are facing opposition from Greenbelt residents who took their cause to a bustling farmers market Sunday.
The proposed train would run at 200 mph and be propelled by magnetic forces, moving on a bed of atoms instead of rails through parts of Greenbelt. That path is one of two alternative routes proposed.
“We are saying no build is the best,” Councilmember Judith J. Davis said.
The backers of the scmaglev (super conductive magnetic levitation) train promise a one-hour trip from D.C. to New York.
Opponents of the paths proposed through Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties said the benefits come at a cost they’re not willing to pay.
“It happens to be in an area where the low-income people live, the underserved people live,” Davis said.
Residents are also concerned about losing greenspace with trails, flora and fauna. They worry that the train would interfere with protected lands, like the Greenbelt Forest Preserve, “the Patuxent national wildlife refuge and also there’s the issue of the train maintenance facility that they’ve proposed for the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center,” resident Kristin Fletcher said.
Environmental impact studies also acknowledge the effects on those areas and suggest ways to mitigate them.
The Japanese company behind the maglev build said benefits to the train include jobs, less traffic and economic growth around proposed stations -- none of which are in Greenbelt.
“Grew up in New York, left the big hustle and bustle to come down here. I don’t think it’s gonna do what they’re thinking it’s going to do. I don’t think it benefits our community at all,” resident Khary Hodge said.
Surveys sanctioned by the backers tout significant community support. That perspective, however, was harder to find at the farmers market than processed food.
With above ground and below ground portions, opponents look at the overhead infrastructure in Japan’s system for what to expect. The train may be the future of mass transit, but many in the area still aren't sold.
“You don’t need to destroy the present in order to have hope and promise for the future,” Fletcher said.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks recently expressed her opposition to the project, along with the county council and some state transportation officials.
More federal review is underway. The fate of the proposed maglev could be decided as early as next year.