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Would maglev turn Baltimore to DC suburb?

The magnetic levitation or “maglev” train in Japan can reach 311 mph while floating above its test track. Backers who want to build a similar line in the U.S. say it could transport travelers from Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes, and from Washington to New York in an hour. But is it feasible?

The prospect of getting maglev, not to mention eliminating the slog down Interstate 95, is exhilarating, but I am troubled by possible unintended consequences. In view of what happened to Washington's suburbs in the wake of the Metro system, are we prepared for the over-development and skyrocketing housing prices that might accompany the high-speed trains (“Potential Baltimore maglev station locations narrowed; Port Covington out of the running,” Nov. 15)?

When we are a mere 15-minute train ride from D.C. and within a reasonable commute from New York, will Baltimore be able to retain its individual character and unique neighborhoods, or are we destined to suffer the same fate as Bethesda with its wall-to-wall high rises (with more to come) and rapidly McMansionizing residential areas? Will our row houses and bungalows survive? Will we still have locally-owned businesses or will land become so valuable that only luxury hotels and high-end chain retail can find a home here?

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Middle and working-class people cannot buy houses within easy commuting distance of Washington and Manhattan. Is anyone concerned about what will happen when our city becomes their bedroom community?

Lynn Jensen, Baltimore

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