The Federal Railroad Administration has paused its review of the Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Maglev Project, a high-speed train project that would get passengers from D.C. to Baltimore in 15 minutes. It is the second time in two years that the FRA has paused its review of the project.
The federal government’s permitting dashboard website says that as of Aug. 25, “FRA has paused the project to review project elements and to determine the next steps.” On Monday, the project faced another setback when a Maryland judge dismissed a lawsuit that would have given over 43 acres of land in South Baltimore to the developers of the high-speed maglev train project.
A spokesperson for the FRA wrote in an email that the agency “looks forward to sharing the revised project EIS schedule when it is determined.” Sebastian Warren, a spokesperson for Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail, a company behind the project, said the group remains committed to moving forward with it.
“The Baltimore-Washington Rapid Rail remains committed to working with the Federal Railroad Administration and Maryland Department of Transportation in review of the SCMaglev project schedule and next steps,” he wrote in an email. “We are focused on moving the SCMaglev project to completion, while incorporating comments from agencies and the public.”
The high-speed train project between D.C. and Baltimore — which was estimated to cost between $13.8 and $16.8 billion — is the first phase of a larger plan that would eventually include an hour-long train option from D.C. to New York. The project and other similar proposals have been discussed for well over a decade. Those in favor of the high-speed train say it would be transformative for the the Mid-Atlantic’s transportation landscape, making travel fast and convenient and reducing car traffic on I-95 North.
But officials and residents in the region who oppose the project say it would have negative environmental effects and an inequitable impact. Baltimore City officially came out against the project, citing concerns about effects on the environment project and worries that the high-speed train, which is projected to charge $60 for a trip between Baltimore and D.C., would not benefit the average resident.
D.C. hasn’t taken an official stance on the project, but has asked federal officials to modify the proposal to take into account possible effects on car traffic. The proposal includes a 1,000-parking space garage in Mt. Vernon Square, which D.C. officials have said would cause unnecessary car congestion in an area of the city that’s highly accessible via public transit. Prince George’s County councilmembers have also expressed opposition to the project.
Earlier this year, a similarly futuristic transportation project was derailed when Elon Musk’s proposal for a high-speed car tunnel between D.C. and Baltimore was quietly shelved.