This really should be a no-brainer. Ryan Marshall’s article on the monorail proposal (Jan. 8) states the costs associated with each option. We can either choose to expand the already existing Metro system with a monorail that will take Frederick residents potentially all the way to Washington, D.C., and to many parts of northern Virginia for $3.4 billion, or we can add more pavement to Interstate 270 for $11 billion.

Either way, residents who choose to take advantage of the improvements will have to pay. The plan to add lanes to I-270 involves a toll to anyone wanting to use it. The monorail will also have a cost attached to it. However, even if less than half the people take advantage of the monorail than would use the new vehicle lanes, you can still pay back $3.4 billion a lot faster than $11 billion.

Add to that the advantages of lowering the carbon footprint of the popular north/south commuting corridor and providing commuters the ability to read or work as a part of their commute, and it seems like one proposal outweighs the other without a doubt.

Chris Spruill

Woodsboro

Editor’s note: Chris Spruill is the accounting manager at The Frederick News-Post.

(20) comments

Fleawest

The future of transportation in America is connected and automated vehicles. Most people have no idea how close we are to this reality. Building segregated traffic lanes will support this future and ease the transition. By the time we build a monorail system it will be obsolete. Monorail would have been a great idea 30 years ago.

DickD

Chris, you have ignored light rail, which has not been studied. Monorail is good, but must be elevated at least five feet. Light rail can go anyplace, including underground.

glenkrc

Terrain, Dick. Terrain. The key is which method can better negotiate the difficult terrain between Clarksburg and Urbana, as well as south of the Monocacy. My hunch is that it would be the monorail. Light rail in those areas would be restricted to the median of 270, whereas monorail is a bit more flexible. That said, we need a genuine estimate of the monorail's cost. I don't think the current estimate fills the bill.

DickD

Light rail can go anyplace monorail goes and the reverse is not true.

glenkrc

I think you better check the grades involved.

DickD

You need to realize light rail can go overhead or under ground. Monorail cannot.

glenkrc

OK, Dick - next time you pass through the scales, figure how you would route your light rail. At least the monorail has the option to go along side, over one of the scales. Try supporting your light rail through the median area or tunnel on through the area without worsening the already serious gradient (and drainage) problems.

gary4books

Chris is exactly right. And if care is taken in planning and building the monorail, we can expect a lower price and even more than one source for the project. Only the inertia of the past will prevent this project. "We never did this before..." is not the only way to plan for the future.

petersamuel

This letter compares apples and oranges. The $11 billion covers over 60 miles of widening of I-270 and the Beltway whereas the $3.4 billion covers 22 miles of monorail Frederick to Shady Grove. The equiivalent 22 mile wiudening of I-270 with toll lanes probably accounts for about $2.5 billion of the $11 billion. Four extra lanes on I-270 are less expensive than a monorail of ther same length.

gary4books

Which 60 miles? Where does it start and end? Or is that for four lanes? I expect a "monorail" could go both ways.

threecents

I know a highway lane will probably work, and people will use it. I don't know if a monorail will be reliable, or if people will use it. I like the idea of using the extra lane exclusively for busses and high efficiency vehicles.

gary4books

Is it reliable or will people use it? They never knew about the DC Metro system, either. Sometimes the only way to know is to build it.

shiftless88

Actually I like reversible lanes as a solution. Toll lanes should not be an option.

mrnatural1

You got that right shiftless. No Lexus lanes for the rich.

Russian

I’m all for public transportation but a monorail rail? If taxpayers don’t mind over paying a single source supplier billions for maintenance then great if not build heavy rail to Frederick

gary4books

Heavy rail is not excluded. Two new tracks might even allow "express trains to Union Station." Wow!

FCPS-Principal

It's a no-brainer all right, especially for those with no brain. Functionality must be considered as well as cost. Considering that the 3.4 billion option only takes you to a few select destinations while the 11 billion option lets you reach whatever destination you choose, the choice should be obvious to any no-brainer. Carbon footprint? No one cares about that. Certainly not the Orange Baboon or any of its millions of minions. For them more carbon is better. Mine that coal! Burn that oil! So build those lanes, toss the toll booths and get started.

shiftless88

There are only a few exits on 270 so no, you cannot go whatever destination you choose any more than the stops on a monorail.

FCPS-Principal

In my car I can exit 270 and go where I want. With a monorail I can only go to the Metro.

mrnatural1

That's true FCPS.

All public transportation has limitations. It definitely doesn't work for everyone.

That said, a monorail (or other public transport option) would work very well for some/many people -- and (almost) every monorail or train passenger will represent one less vehicle on I-270! [cool]

Any mass transit would just be another option. Best of all, unlike Lexus lanes, everyone can afford it.

I agree with gabriel. My preference is to do nothing. Let the malignant residential development tumor starve.

Since it seems clear that *something* will be done, our second choice should be public transportation. I don't like the idea of anything that will further increase sprawl and reduce our quality of life, but a monorail (or other mode of transport) is the lesser of the evils.

If, after giving public transportation a fair chance, I-270 remains jammed, then we can discuss adding a reversible "free" lane -- no tolls, funded with the fuel tax.

BTW -- I understand what you meant by 'a monorail will only go to Metro' -- the stops are limited. Of course a person can get anywhere they want to go by using taxis/Uber/Lyft, and/or buses -- but it isn't as convenient as driving and may take longer or cost more. Or maybe not. Each case is different.

The bottom line is that no one is forced to use public transportation. Anyone who wants to keep driving can continue to do so.

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