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Advocates Push For Maglev Construction; Local Leaders Express Concerns

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Maglev advocates pushed for construction to move forward on the proposed project.

The project would cost about $10 billion, but Carpenters Union officials said Thursday the jobs it would bring will help the entire region.

"It's going to change things here in Maryland, and it's going to be union-built," Wayne Rogers, CEO of Northeast Maglev, said.

Maglev officials joined labor leaders in calling for the high-speed rail project to proceed.

A train traveling 311 miles per hour could connect Washington D.C. to New York in an hour, and Washington, D.C. to Baltimore in 15 minutes.

"It's going to change the difference from a person being able to say, 'Maybe I made my kid's baseball game in the afternoon instead of leaving work and being stuck in traffic,'" Rogers said.

That convenience comes at a cost of at least $10 billion.

Local chambers of commerce endorsed the project in December, as did the Carpenters Union Thursday, saying construction alone will create 74,000 jobs. Another 1,500 jobs would be permanent.

"The ability to travel so quickly from Washington D.C. to New York and all the airports in between will facilitate an economic development expansion that is unprecedented," William Sproule of the Regional Council of Carpenters said. (Not sure of his title.)

"I can appreciate this will be a building boom for construction, for technology, but we have a lot of problems with our existing railway lines that we have to fix," Laurel City Councilman Mike Leszcz said.

Leszcz said he has concerns about the project's cost and impact on the environment.

"They're concerned about the impact on the green spaces, the quality of life," he said.

An environmental impact study, which federal and state officials are currently drafting, would analyze those concerns.

The first leg of construction, alone, would take seven years.

Public hearings would follow the release of that environmental impact study.

A route for the proposed line connecting D.C. and Baltimore has not yet been selected.

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