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WORK ON MAGLEV STATIONS TO BEGIN WEDNESDAY

Construction and demolition work will begin today on the maglev stations at Powhatan Avenue, Webb University Center and the University Village, according to Ron Tola, assistant vice president for facilities management.

Supported by a $2 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a demonstrable engineering prototype of maglev at Old Dominion, the construction and demolition will be the first visible signs of renewed work on the project, which came to a halt in October 2002 due to a lack of funding and issues with ride quality. Engineers have already begun modeling and simulation work to determine if a proposed solution to the ride-quality issues will be feasible before testing it on the vehicle.

S.B. Ballard Construction Co. will begin demolition of portions of the University Village and Powhatan Avenue stations June 2 due to structural issues. Following that work, the company will begin construction improvements to the Webb University Center station to support vehicle testing. That station will become the starting point for future test runs of the vehicle. The demolition and construction on the stations is expected to take two to three months.

The $14 million project with American Maglev Technology (AMT), Lockheed Martin, other industry participants, and the federal and state governments began at Old Dominion two years ago with the construction of an elevated concrete guideway and track. After initial research and development efforts at AMT's Edgewater, Fla., facility, the maglev vehicle arrived on campus and test runs began in July 2002. Ride-quality problems surfaced and work was halted that October due to funding issues and the need to refine the vehicle's complex control system.

Since then, engineers at Lockheed Martin believe they have found a solution to the ride-quality problem in the form of an alternative control system, which will be implemented in collaboration with faculty members from ODU's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology.

Under the agreement with FRA, the university and its partners will perform a series of task orders, including:
*vehicle development;
*guideway and station development; and
*testing and evaluating proposed technical solutions to improve ride quality and vehicle stability via modeling and simulation programs and, ultimately, on the guideway and vehicle themselves.

Researchers are aiming for a demonstrable engineering prototype that will operate smoothly at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour along an 1,100-foot section of the 3,400-foot guideway. They note that the system will require additional research and funding beyond this upcoming work, along with required testing and evaluation for certification, before the Powhatan Avenue and University Village stations are rebuilt and the maglev can transport passengers.

This article was posted on: May 27, 2004

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