Despite what you may have read in the Diamondback today, there is no campus tunnel deal in the works between UMD Administrators and the Maryland Transit Administration. According to the Diamondback:
Perhaps ending years of debate, Vice President for Administrative Affairs Ann Wylie announced at yesterday’s University Senate meeting that the MTA had suggested a compromise last month: The line would run above ground on Campus Drive until it reached the Art/Sociology building. The line would then run underground behind Tydings, Francis Scott Key and Marie Mount halls before emerging on the east side of Regents Drive by the Lee Building and continue onto East Campus.
The author didn’t reach MTA before publishing the story. Former RTCP Contributor Matt Johnson spoke with Mike Madden, MTA’s Purple Line project manager and Anne Wylie. Neither had any knowledge that there was any compromise in the works. Nothing has changed. The University still fully supports the Purple Line, but only an alignment that is not cost-effective and won’t ever be funded by the Federal Transit Administration. Their position is tantamount to a rejection of the entire 16-mile project. According to a message from Mike Madden: “We have never agreed to a tunnel option and have made it clear to UM that an underground alignment is not a viable option for the Purple Line. We have fully explained the reasons for not agreeing to a tunnel option. ”
Another interesting element of the story is when the Diamondback recounts statements made by Dr. Wylie at the same University Senate meeting yesterday:
She said she was sure putting the line down Campus Drive wasn’t feasible after examining a similar situation at the University of Minnesota. Like this university, the University of Minnesota is a major research institution that has brought an electric train onto its campus.
Also like this university, it was told similar stories that the train would stop for pedestrians and campus beauty would be preserved. The University of Minnesota now has a train running through it’s central campus with 42 inch fences on either side to shield pedestrians from its tracks. Several stop lights were placed throughout the campus to direct pedestrians and cars and its central road was closed for two years during construction.
“We can expect exactly the same thing if this is to be our fate,” she said.
Perhaps this was a misquote, but according to Matt Johnson (from Track Twenty-Nine) construction of this light rail just started, hasn’t even reached the UMinnesota campus and trains won’t operate there till 2014. RTCP thinks that must explain why there are no reported pedestrian fatalities there yet!