Missouri economic-development and community leaders have been pushing hard to land the first U.S. installment of Virgin Hyperloop One, a high-speed transportation platform that could one day send travelers to destinations at up to 700 miles per hour and make a trip from Kansas City to St. Louis as short as 30 minutes. Right now leaders are vying for the right to build a 12-mile test track in the state that could cost up to $500 million in a combination of public and private money. Proponents argue that this would make Missouri the home of the first public-use transportation tube, shuttling passengers across the state using magnetic technology. But leaders from other states have plans as well.
In Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, there is movement to build a similar infrastructure between Chicago and Pittsburgh that would make travel between the two cities, with a potential stop in Cleveland, possible in less than an hour. Representatives from the states involved are working with another firm, called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, both hyperloop companies are based in California. A feasibility plan called the Great Lakes Hyperloop Study was released earlier in December.
HyperloopTT’s test track is currently in Toulouse, France, while Los Angeles-based Virgin is operating one outside of Las Vegas.
Speaking of Vegas, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who started the hyperloop buzz when he wrote a white paper on the technology in back in 2013, says his Boring Co. should have a high-speed tunnel ready for Sin City some time in 2020 that will transport passengers underneath it and alleviate some of its traffic problems.
In the case of both the Missouri and Great Lakes hyperloops, passengers would be transported in above-ground tubes along the rights of ways of existing interstates and rail lines.