FutureStructure

Colorado Considers Building Magnetic Levitation Monorail, Consults the Public

The entire journey between Boulder and Firestone would take about 10 minutes because the maglev monorail capsules travel at 150 mph.

by Karen Antonacci, Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo. / August 3, 2017

(TNS) -- If Sustainable Systems of Colorado CEO R. Paul Williamson has his way, the Boulder-to-Firestone commute will take 10 minutes via magnetic levitation monorail.

Williamson is holding an information session about his idea to run SkyTran monorail along Colo. 119 and the Diagonal Highway, then south on Foothills Parkway before ending at the Table Mesa Park-and-Ride in Boulder.

SkyTran is a magnetic levitation monorail company headquartered at the NASA Research Park in Mountain View, Calif. SkyTran developed a transportation system that can run bullet-like, two-person capsules long distances in short amounts of time via a computer-controlled overhead magnetic levitation (maglev) system.

In 2014, SkyTran announced an agreement with the Israeli government to build a demo system at Israel Aerospace Industries in Lod, Israel. CNN Money reported in 2015 that SkyTran was supposed to debut a pilot project in Tel Aviv by the end of that year, but The Jerusalem Post reported in 2016 that the plans "have hit setbacks."

Williamson became inspired to get a SkyTran system built in the United States when he was looking at transportation options for the University of Montana.

He was once dean of UM's College of Technology before he went on to direct the university's Alternative Energy Technologies program, according to articles from The Missoulian.

Williamson's endeavor to bring maglev-powered elevated transportation to the university was funded in 2002 through the U.S. Department of Transportation, but the grant dried up in 2010, he said.

"I moved back to Colorado and I'm going, 'I can't just let this die. We can do this here,'" Williamson said.

The entire journey between Boulder and Firestone would take about 10 minutes because the capsules travel 150 mph, Williamson said. The aluminum and steel construction has a small footprint on the ground, uses about 200 watts of solar power per mile and the infrastructure costs one-tenth of what light rail would cost, he said.

Right now, Williamson said he is trying to secure money for his nonprofit — Sustainable Systems of Colorado — to fund a feasibility study for a Boulder-to-Firestone SkyTran system.

The information session is on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Longmont Public Library conference room. Williamson said he will present about the technology and how it can benefit the area as well as accept feedback from local residents about a possible ballot initiative in the future.

If people want to donate to the nonprofit at the information session, he will gladly accept it, Williamson said.

"If you bring your checkbook, I'll welcome you with open arms," he said. "But it's going to be more informational and we're looking for people, if given the opportunity, who would support a ballot initiative for example so we may look at that. We're also looking at funding from other agencies so we need support and local political support."

©2017 the Daily Times-Call (Longmont, Colo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.