Cal U Seeks Federal Grant for Urban Maglev National Demonstration Test Facility

September 17, 2009

Project will create jobs, demonstrate feasibility of cost-effective ‘green’ transit option

CALIFORNIA, Pa., Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cal U is seeking $299 million in federal stimulus funds for the Urban Maglev National Demonstration Test Facility at California University of Pennsylvania.

The university applied for funding this week through the U.S. Transportation Department’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants Program.

“This project will have an enormous local, regional and national impact by fundamentally changing the way people and cargo move through urban areas,” said California University President Angelo Armenti, Jr.

“The local businesses involved in this project are setting the stage for a new, American-based industry that will create thousands of jobs. At the same time, the project will demonstrate how Urban Maglev, a safe and sustainable transportation option, will lead to a cleaner environment and more livable communities.”

The Urban Maglev National Demonstration Test Facility at Cal U would consist of five passenger stations along a 5-mile (round trip) elevated guideway connecting the university’s upper campus and the nearby Center in the Woods senior citizen complex with Cal U’s lower campus and the borough of California. An intermodal transfer terminal with a 2,500-car parking garage and a maintenance/operations facility, both on the upper campus, also are included in the plan.

Four 70-passenger cars will travel an inch above the guideway, propelled by a magnetic levitation system that is safer and less costly to operate than previous designs. The climate-controlled cars will transport passengers at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour along a route that demonstrates Urban Maglev’s ability to handle 160-degree turns and a 7 percent grade — much steeper than the 3 percent maximum grade for traditional light-rail vehicles.

Part of Cal U’s master plan since 1993, the Urban Maglev project is “shovel-ready,” with environmental assessments, engineering and municipal approvals for the initial phase already in place.

“This project is a game-changer,” said David O’Loughlin, president of Pittsburgh-based U.S. Maglev Development Corp., which is working with Cal U on the project.

“Not only does Urban Maglev fill a real need for the university, it has the potential to jump-start similar projects throughout the United States by demonstrating the cost-effectiveness, safety and reliability of this new, ‘green’ technology.

“The national demonstration facility at Cal U will lay the foundation for a new high-technology, 21st-century manufacturing industry that creates jobs that cannot be outsourced to another country.”

Based on projections by the Council of Economic Advisors, building the test facility at Cal U will result in more than 2,000 job-years of immediate employment in western Pennsylvania, primarily in design, manufacturing and construction. This is critically important in Washington County, where unemployment is nearly 8 percent, and in neighboring Fayette County, with 9 percent unemployment. Vehicle manufacturing jobs also will be created in Beaver County, where unemployment stands at 8.4 percent.

Overall, the Council estimates that a $299 million investment will stimulate the creation of 3,261 total job-years of employment. A study promulgated by the American Public Transit Association places the figure even higher, at 7,136 jobs.

All full-scale components of the Urban Maglev system already have been manufactured and tested. The technology has been developed over the last decade with more than $28 million invested by the U.S. Department of Transportation, PennDOT and a coalition of local businesses.

In addition to Cal U and Western Pennsylvania Maglev Development Corp., project parties from Pennsylvania are L. Robert Kimball and Associates of Ebensburg; P.J. Dick Inc., Mackin Engineering Co., Sargent Electric Co. and Union Switch and Signal Inc., all of Pittsburgh; Hall Industries Inc. of Ellwood City; and New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. of Bedford County.

Also participating is General Atomics of Tupelo, Miss., and San Diego, Calif., where a full-scale Urban Maglev vehicle has been running on a 400-foot test track completed in 2004. Technical liaisons are Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

“Federal leadership is key to developing this new transportation model,” said O’Loughlin, who estimated the total project cost at $370 million. In addition to the TIGER grant, funding comes from a 2003 authorization in the Pennsylvania State Capital Budget and other sources.

If a TIGER Discretionary Grant is awarded, the project could begin in April 2010 and be ready for public use within four years.

For more information about the Urban Maglev National Demonstration Test Facility at California University of Pennsylvania, visit www.urbanmaglev.com.

Founded in 1852, California University of Pennsylvania is dedicated to building both character and careers.

A proud member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Cal U offers its 9,000 students more than 150 undergraduate majors/concentrations and 50 graduate programs.

For more information, visit www.calu.edu.

SOURCE California University of Pennsylvania

Source: newswire

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