LAWRENCE — Thirty-six years after his first campaign for mayor went off the tracks, a self-described inventor with a dream to build a levitated train that would connect the city to Boston in eight minutes is making another run for the office.
In the nearly four decades since he last run for mayor as a 25-year-old, James Patrick O’Donoghue, now 62, has spent the time tweaking the design of his so-called “maglev” — for magnetically levitated — train to correct the defects of similar trains now operating in China and Germany.
He said his love for Lawrence is at the root of his life-long effort.
“I came up with the invention many years ago when posing the question in my mind, ‘How do you change Lawrence?,’” O’Donoghue said about his design for the train, then slipped into slightly mind-numbing engineer-speak about the patented safety feature he developed to override “any possible loss of levitation” by the train so that its “undercarriage lock(s) tangent to the guide-way to ride out the failure.” The concept received patent number 5,651,318, with 24 registered claims, but so far it has no investors.
So O’Donoghue has gone back on the campaign trail for mayor, where he has wrapped much of the effort around his maglev proposal, and where tongue-twisters have continued.
“Municipal services are priced to fit the general U.S. economy while in ratio Lawrence’s residents per capita income is too low to support the additional tax burden to pay for all services on our own,” he said about the city’s decline as the mills closed over the last century.
He said the fix to the decades of decline is building a Greater Lawrence Metropolitan Transit System to deliver Boston-bound commuters to Lawrence, where they would be whisked to Boston aboard his maglev train.