Air value over our roads

Bilger Monorail (c)Who owns the right of way?

It’s too long a story to answer, but here’s an attempt to summarize some of what I’ve learned working with the Bilger Monorail.

The air value over our roads is a trillion dollar frontier.

I propose the monorail.

Today several monorail proposals have been upgraded to sleek modern designs for urban passenger systems and rural freight. Monorail engineering is quite simple if based on the world’s oldest operating monorail in Wuppertal, Germany, or developed from monorail’s industrial history such as carrying salt mine hoppers.

A “true monorail” is cargo or a cabin suspended under a single rail. The passenger cabins or shipping containers or large cargo swing freely beneath the track — perhaps the least expensive of all land transportation. A suspended cabin is the most comfortable and stable of all transportation because forces are always downward rather than side to side.

The infrastructure is simple — a hefty post, a hefty I-beam and an ordinary steel rail. These commodities are manufactured everywhere and inexpensively with no upcoming material shortages. The drive engineering may not be as futuristic as ‘maglev’ or ‘incremental microwave’ but steel-on-steel is truly efficient. The sling designs that carry the weight are not as costly as elevating the entire roadbed such as most so-called monorails or transit systems on high concrete beams and propped up railroads.

The monorail system is flexible. For example, it can remove chains of ocean containers directly from above a ship to convey across landbridges with much lower impact on the environment. Futuristic passenger cabins, like popular bullet designs, can speed to about 170mph between cities before faster speeds introduce costly aerodynamic challenges. Slower speed lightweight neighborhood networks can weave over the streets of our congested areas — in some cases moving people, cars and freight! Most corridor for a monorail is unused airspace over our existing system of roadbed.

The true monorail may be the only practical method of enhancing our incredible investment in millions of miles of roadbed. A single-track suspended monorail was selected for the Chicago Loop Project when Jane Byrne was Mayor. And Manila chose the monorail as a practical urban and rural system. Too many times, monorail proposals fail to reach completion.

Although the true monorail is an elegant technology, it shouldn’t be technology that propels a new venture in transportation. Approaching transportation options by selecting technology seems to attract the wrong type of development team and skews social support. Development teams must first try to secure the transport conduit and build better community relations in order to focus on both industry and public issues.

In your region, who owns the right of way? Without a firm grasp of this issue, there can be no leverage, no security, no decision to move forward.

Transportation should be developed on behalf of its community. Securing the rights of way and locating terminals is an extremely challenging development horizon before new transit can be fabricated and installed. But today, asserting and managing transportation rights has been diluted, abandoned or left vulnerable to exploitation. There are no advanced university degrees in ‘roadway air management’.

Developing new transportation systems is a burden. Even under the best circumstances, the path to a stable investment to improve local transportation is more than most people will endure. And in today’s fashionable adherence to only the free market, we are too often also free to do too little.