It seems like there is a bit of disagreement over the dreamy Interstate Traveler Co. MagLev train system that would connect Detroit and Lansing.

Over the past few days, varying news reports have said that the MagLev project is either “one step closer to reality” or that a state study group has given the project a “mixed report.”

The MagLev would connect Detroit and Lansing by some sort of high-speed vehicle (not quite a train, not quite a rocketship) that would run along a raised track built in that swath of grass in the middle of Interstate 96. Also, it would be powered by a combination of solar and hydrogen.

Wednesday’s Livington Daily story parsed the differing opinion of the project nicely. It quoted state Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Genoa Township, as being optimistic about MagLev (it could create jobs, transform the state, etc.), and then the House task force studying MagLev as being weirded out that the company “refused or did not have answers” to questions about how the project would be financed. Rogers is chair of the task force.

The task force eventually recommended that the MagLev project not move forward unless there is private financing in place.

It’s really too bad that this project has turned from awesome to dubious. I mean, it seemed a little ambitious when it was announced, but this task force report is such a bad omen and makes me feel like Interstate Traveler just has an idea, but no technology or money. (Check out the company’s Web site (, it looks like that fake AOL web page Steven Glass set up for Jukt Micronics in “Shattered Glass.”) And, plus, I don’t see the public clamoring for this thing.

It’s too bad because Michigan really needs some kind of rail transportation system other than Amtrak. It’s always a good idea to spend less money fixing highways and roads and more on creating alternative transit infrastructure. Commuter and light rail lines are very old ideas, and this MagLev thing is cool and futuristic. Focus on a light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit and a commuter line between Ann Arbor and Detroit — that’ll bring Michigan into the mid-20th century. Maybe by the time we build regular rail, Interstate Traveler will have its financing together.