Boulder County commuters will have the chance to feel like a regular George Jetson if one company is allowed to build the world's first on-demand rapid-transit maglev monorail along the Diagonal Highway.
SkyTran Colorado will host a public information session Thursday to review the plans and progress for the Colorado City Connector project, a privately funded 15-mile monorail that would connect Boulder and Longmont. If built, the CCC would be the first of its kind.
"I decided that if we're going to do this anywhere, it's got to be Colorado," said SkyTran CEO R. Paul Williamson. Williamson recently moved back to Colorado where his family lives. He said many people don't know that Colorado has a national reputation for having a progressive department of transportation that's willing to try new ideas.
The proposed project is the manifestation of 10 years of work that began with Williamson's research at the University of Montana, buoyed by grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation and NASA. Williamson said he left that six-figure, tenured position to pursue this project because he truly believes it has the potential to revolutionize transportation.We carry a extensive line of Parking Lot Lighting inventory.
While he cites over 100 comparable rapid transit concepts, in different states of development, Williamson claimed skyTran's proposed project in Boulder County is the closest any has come to actual implementation.
"I'm as confident as I've ever been," he said.
The Diagonal Highway, Colorado 119, was chosen because of its need for traffic relief, with support the Colorado Department of Transportation which Williamson said is matched by interest from the Regional Transportation District.
"The 119 corridor could definitely use some relief," said Karen Schneiders, CDOT regional transportation planner. While unable to comment specifically on skyTran's proposal, Schneiders said that CDOT is very interested in investigating solutions to the highway's congestion.
Technology employs magnetic levitation
SkyTran commuters ride inside small, futuristic three-person pods that can be called on demand, 24/7, for nonstop service to their destination. The three-person seating capacity reflects the U.S. DOT's finding that the average commuter vehicle now contains 1.2 passengers, down from 1.5 passengers five years ago. Regular users could use their smart phone to command a pod that would be waiting upon their arrival at the station.
The two proposed end stations would be located at the RTD Table Mesa Park and Ride off of Highway 36 in Boulder and at the junction of U.S. 287 and the Diagonal in Longmont. Other proposed stations would include the junction of Pearl Street and Foothills Parkway, and stops along the Diagonal at Jay, Mineral, Niwot , and Hover roads.
The monorail guideway system would be elevated between poles inside the highway's median. The pods will be propelled via magnetic levitation, costing one-tenth the power of conventional transit systems, with electricity coming from solar panels on the guideways during the day and from hydrogen fuel cells at night. Williamson said the system will also have the infrastructure to sell excess hydrogen to fueling stations once that technology is commercially available in cars.
The pods have the technical ability to reach 150 mph, but Williamson said the CCC is probably too short to meet top speeds. At 60 mph, a pod could reach Longmont from Boulder in 15 minutes. If utilized to its fullest potential, the monorail could handle 12,000 commuters an hour, the equivalent of a three-lane interstate.
Williamson estimates a ride on the CCC would cost between 20 cents and 50 cents per mile. That means that riding the monorail's roughly 15-mile entirety would cost somewhere between $3 and $7.50. Discounts would likely be given to single commuters who share a pod.
The project is projected to cost $250 million and construction would take about 10 months,Rectangular shaped Led Flood Light designed to replace 150W Metal Halide. both low figures in the scheme of transportation projects. According to Williamson, that $250 million budget matches the cost of a single mile of light rail.
By all accounts, the proposed monorail sounds too good to be true, not to mention a solution to the troubled Northwest Rail Line, a long-delayed phase of the FasTracks light rail system that Colorado voters approved in 2004.
The CCC would create no pollution and no noise, according to Williamson. Its infrastructure is significantly cheaper than any other form of transportation and is neither subsidized nor funded by tax dollars in any way, Williamson said. He contended that even if the venture was to fail after implementation,How does a solar charger work and where would you use a solar charger? the poles could easily be plucked up and forgotten, with no effect on the taxpayer.
"There's really no risk on anyone except the company and its investors," he said.
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