MDOT I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study
The MDOT I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study
What is the I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study?
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has conducted an Independent I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study to assess the viability to construct, operate, and maintain a monorail system between Shady Grove Metrorail Station and Frederick, Maryland. The study was requested by the Board of Public Works.
What is Monorail?
Monorail is defined as a single rail serving as a track for passenger vehicles. In most cases rail is elevated, but monorails can also run at grade, below grade or in subway tunnels.
Vehicles are either suspended from or straddle a narrow guideway. Monorail vehicles are wider than the guideway that supports them. Newer technology focuses on the straddle technology.
Where are other Monorails and what can we learn from them?
The Maryland Department of Transportation has conducted a global scan of all monorail systems, domestically and internationally to better understand their technologies, successes and lessons learned. This scan assesses the use of monorail technology and assesses approximately 90 monorail systems. In particular, the scan identifies 8 monorail systems in the US with a focus on urban/suburban commuter monorail, which is similar to the I-270 corridor.
Monorail Global Scan
The I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study examines:
- Assessment of existing monorail services (The Global Scan)
- Alignment options
- Station locations and connectivity
- Frequency of service
- Ridership demand
- Environmental considerations
- Operation and maintenance needs
- Costs for construction, operation and maintenance
- Fiscal analysis of funding and financing scenarios
- The Monorail Feasibility Study report is available here
The I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study considers alignment options connecting the City of Frederick to the Shady Grove Metro Station. Alignment options are focused to utilize, to the greatest extent possible, existing MDOT right-of-way. Station options are considered at six locations: Frederick, Urbana, Clarksburg, Germantown, Metropolitan Gove, and Shady Grove.
Relationship to MDOT SHA I-270 P3 Study
As part of the P3 Program, the MDOT State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) is also undertaking Pre-National Environmental Policy Act (Pre-NEPA) activities to identify potential solutions for congestion relief along I-270 from I-370 to I-70. These Pre-NEPA activities include establishing the purpose and need for possible improvements and identifying a preliminary range of alternatives to consider in a subsequent NEPA environmental study.
The I-270 Monorail Feasibility Study is conducted in the same study area as I-270 from I-370 to I-70 Pre-NEPA activities, which are part of the I-495 and I-270 P3 Program. We are also collaborating with the I‑270 Pre-NEPA Study Public Private Partnership (P3) team to ensure we have the same base maps with environmental features and conditions to ensure that both studies have the same information in their analysis.
We are working with The High Road Foundation to learn from their analysis, as well as conducting our own assessment of Monorail and its feasibility in the I-270 Corridor. We are also collaborating with the I-270 P3 team to ensure we have the same base maps with environmental features and conditions to ensure that both studies have the same information in their analysis, as noted above. We are also collaborating with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments as well as local jurisdictions.
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