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Editorial Advisory Board: The Baltoona Flash is on track.

Byline: Editorial Advisory Board

The billions in infrastructure money coming from Washington will be a boon to cities like Baltimore and, in our case, the improvement of Penn Station will be high on the priorities list. Certainly, the need for an attractive, accessible and efficient gateway for commerce and tourism is essential to maintain and enhance our position among the cities of the east. But as important as a beautiful and exciting terminal may be, it's still a train station (perhaps supplemented with busses and a heliport). What about those trains? Here's where the public/private partnership delivers the goods to two great cities and needless to say, we're all for it and we can see little reason to be anything but enthused. Of what do we speak? Why, the joint venture to be announced Sunday, April 1, backed by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, affectionately (and with a nod to history) called the Ma & Pa Railroad LLC, which will bring maglev technology to the Baltimore-Altoona corridor. Altoona, Pennsylvania's th largest city, and Baltimore were, to a large extent, built and grew around the railroads. It's only natural, then, that they'll be rebuilt on 21st century railroad technology. We're all familiar with the beauty, landmarks and benefits of life in Baltimore. We say this connection to Altoona will enhance the city more than any other infrastructure improvement. Just think of it: Altoona will become a suburb of Baltimore, half an hour's travel time on gleaming trains silently traversing the countryside at speeds almost unimaginable. Altoona and Blair County products could be promoted in Baltimore, and the hunger for Baltimore goods and services in central Pennsylvania can finally be sated! Baltimoreans, in turn, will be treated to all that beautiful Altoona has in store for us: The Double-A Altoona Curve baseball team, an affiliate of the Pirates, the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, the Railroaders Memorial Museum and the great railroad wonder, Horseshoe Curve. There's little reason for the skepticism that so often accompanies breakthroughs like this. Maglev is not really a new technology, although it is not in general use in this country. The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, in its historic trains exhibit, has a demonstration of maglev technology which shows it can be a simple and virtually frictionless method of transport that makes wheeled vehicles on tracks virtually obsolete. Indeed, the upkeep savings alone make it an unbeatable land transport mode. Expensive to the taxpayers? The capital cost will be entirely borne by Ma & Pa. The costs of the right-of-way will be borne by a Pennsylvania and Maryland-sponsored public corporation that will float bonds to finance land purchases. These costs will be minimized by placing the maglev trains on trestles above existing right-of-ways, such as Interstate 83 on the York-Harrisburg leg. Fare collections will retire the bonds and return a fair profit to the investors. Undoubtedly, the preordained success of this venture will engender copies of this partnership of cities around the country. It will also be the basis for the extension, in years to come, to Erie, so that Baltimore, the Queen City of the Chesapeake, will have a foothold on the Great Lakes. If that happens, the train might lose its proposed moniker: the Baltoona Flash. So, while enhancing Penn Station is a good idea, it's the trains to Altoona and back that will rekindle the fire in both cities. EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBERS James B. Astrachan, Chair James K. Archibald John Bainbridge Jr. Wesley D. Blakeslee Martha Ertman Arthur F. Fergenson Susan Francis Marcella A. Holland David Jaros Ericka King Stephen Meehan C. William Michaels Angela W. Russell H. Mark Stichel The Daily Record Editorial Advisory Board is composed of members of the legal profession who serve voluntarily and are independent of The Daily Record. Through their ongoing exchange of views, members of the Board attempt to develop consensus on issues of importance to the Bench, Bar and public. When their minds meet, unsigned opinions will result. When they differ, majority views and signed rebuttals will appear. Members of the community are invited to contribute letters to the editor and/or columns about opinions expressed by the Editorial Advisory Board. Find out more about the members of the Editorial Advisory Board.

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Publication:Daily Record (Baltimore, MD)
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Mar 29, 2018
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