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Construction on the 40 columns that will support an elevated transit system track through the middle of campus is scheduled to begin next month.

If all goes according to schedule, the system, which will use magnetic levitation technology to send one vehicle continuously back and forth along an elevated track above the main east-west campus walkway, will be ready for testing from this December to May 2002.

Ron Tola, director of facilities management, said plans call for the elevated guideway to be in place by the start of the fall semester, with construction on three stations to be completed in the fall.

The $14 million project is a partnership between Old Dominion, American Maglev Technology, the commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Resources. Lockheed Martin is designing the vehicle and track.

The track will start just across Powhatan Avenue from the Powhatan Apartments and end on the east side of Hampton Boulevard at 46th Street, between the Technology Building and the Constant Convocation Center. Elevated stations, with stairs and an elevator, will be located at each end. A third station will be built near the midpoint of the 3,200-feet route, near Webb Center.

The vehicle, which will levitate on a cushion of air one-quarter inch above two rails, will be approximately 40 feet long,
7 1/2 feet wide and 9 feet tall. It will travel at about 40 mph and carry up to 140 passengers. The travel time between each stop will be one minute.

Monitors in the vehicle, in the elevators and at the stations will be connected to the Office of Public Safety.

The maglev vehicle will run 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, except when the university is closed or for scheduled maintenance.

Because the track will be elevated, pedestrians will still be able to use the walkway underneath the structure.

Robert Fenning, acting vice president for administration and finance, said allocations from Parking Services will finance the annual operation of the system, estimated at $70,000 to $100,000. He noted that there is no need at this time to increase parking fees to help pay for the system's operation, and that there will be no charge to ride.

This article was posted on: April 6, 2001

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