MetroPlan Orlando gave its conditional approval to phase one of a plan to build a 40-mile-long magnetic levitation rail line through the city. The monorail would be a first for the United States, says American Maglev Technology Inc. (AMT), the private company behind the $800 million project.
The first phase involves building a 15-mile elevated line connecting Orlando International Airport and the Orange County Convention Center, and would cost $315 million. The approval clears the way for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to solicit bids for use of the public right of way along the proposed route.
According to AMT, the system would cost $20 million per mile to build, compared to $70 for similar systems. No public money would be needed, says AMT president and CEO Tony Morris.
MetroPlan executive director Harry Barley says the FDOT will carry out a technical assessment to ensure the technology is safe. The transportation planning agency also wants to issue a request for proposals to see any available competing plans before proceeding further.
“This is a new technology, there is a test track and the [AMT] team has already gone through a great deal of testing on their own,” says Barley. “But we feel there needs to be some additional work to review what they’ve done and perhaps build upon that before we’re really confident the technology is appropriate.”
Lease agreements also need to be negotiated to acquire public right of ways for the project. Barley says those details will have to be worked out amongst the various agencies, including the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, the Orange County Expressway Authority, Orange County and the city of Orlando.