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Is Maglev in our future?

What maglev supporters are saying

Dr. Robert Capretto, a Port Authority board member, after visiting General Atomics, the San Diego-based company that is supplying the maglev technology — "If the proper expertise is hired to coordinate the technology, I’m comfortable with [maglev]. We blew Skybus [an elevated, rubber-tire people mover considered in the 1970s], and I don’t want us to be the ones who blew this opportunity."

State Rep. Don Walko, D-North Side — "If you just look at the Civic Arena shuttle, then I’d wonder about the merit of the project. But when you extend the system to the North Shore and Oakland, it has wonderful possibilities. Given that maglev is going to be built somewhere, a lot of us would like to have it here."

Robert M. White, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of engineering — "Pittsburgh still has a ‘low-tech’ image. A high-profile initiative such as this would be a big step toward convincing prospective investors and entrepreneurs that Pittsburgh has the vision and courage to embrace new technology. If we walk away from maglev, we also lose $500 million in federal funding to some other city."

What maglev critics are saying

Leonard Finnell of Forest Hills, retired Westinghouse Electric engineer — "The county commissioners have been maneuvered into the position that if they oppose maglev, they oppose progress and new jobs in the area. The only advantage of building an extremely expensive system for the short distance between the Civic Arena and Steel Plaza is to provide financial benefits to the promoters."

Jerry Selvaggi, independent engineer from Shadyside — "Maglev is a comprehensive system. There are none in operation in the U.S. It should be approached as an experimental undertaking. General Atomics should submit a full proposal for review by qualified engineers and scientists."

Michael E. Lamb, deputy prothonotary for Allegheny County — "Proponents point to a demand for Downtown parking as the force that will drive this project financially. Are we to believe there are 5,000 people willing to pay $11 a day to park at the arena who do not park Downtown today. Even if these people did exist, would it be a good idea to bring 5,000 more cars Downtown every day?"

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