Behind the Lens: A $16 Million Flop

Photos and musings from photographer David Kidd.

maglev train Old Dominion University
(David Kidd)
Nearly 20 years ago, plans were approved for a magnetic levitation, or maglev, train that would whisk students across the campus of Virginia's Old Dominion University riding on a thin cushion of air.

By 2002, an elevated concrete and steel guideway was constructed across the Norfolk, Va., school. The state kicked in nearly half of the project's $16 million price tag. A blue-and-white train car was set upon the track, and tests were run.

But the maglev proved to be more complicated than originally thought.

The car never traveled more than a short distance, at speeds far less than the promised 40 miles per hour. More test runs took place over the next few years -- some of them paid for by selling most of the metal track as scrap.

The last of the three stations was demolished in 2010. But a 3,200-foot overhead concrete guideway remains. Today, students at Old Dominion use it as a landmark and to provide a small amount of protection from sun and rain.

Zach Patton -- Executive Editor. Zach joined GOVERNING as a staff writer in 2004. He received the 2011 Jesse H. Neal Award for Outstanding Journalism
Special Projects
Sponsored Stories
Creating meaningful citizen experiences in a post-COVID world requires embracing digital initiatives like secure and ethical data sharing, artificial intelligence and more.
GHD identified four themes critical for municipalities to address to reach net-zero by 2050. Will you be ready?
As more state and local jurisdictions have placed a priority on creating sustainable and resilient communities, many have set strong targets to reduce the energy use and greenhouse gases (GHGs) associated with commercial and residential buildings.
As more people get vaccinated and states begin to roll back some of the restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic — schools, agencies and workplaces are working on a plan on how to safely return to normal.
The solutions will be a permanent part of government even after the pandemic is over.
See simple ways agencies can improve the citizen engagement experience and make online work environments safer without busting the budget.
Whether your agency is already a well-oiled DevOps machine, or whether you’re just in the beginning stages of adopting a new software development methodology, one thing is certain: The security of your product is a top-of-mind concern.
The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, over half of the workforce will require significant reskilling or upskilling to do their jobs—and this data was published prior to the pandemic.
Part math problem and part unrealized social impact, recycling is at a tipping point. While there are critical system improvements to be made, in the end, success depends on millions of small decisions and actions by people.