WWII German POW returns to say Thanks – Intermission Story (27)

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Pacific Paratrooper

In an Oct. 3, 2017 photo, Günter Gräwe, a German POW held in Washington during World War II, bids farewell as he finishes touring a former barracks with Deputy Joint Base Commander Col. William Percival at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times via AP)

By HAL BERNTON, Seattle Times

SEATTLE (AP) — Gunter Grawe spent three years as a German prisoner of war in western Washington, a World War II incarceration he recalls not with rancor, but gratitude for the chance to “live and learn in America.”  Grawe always thought about returning to the state to say thank you.

In early October, the rail-thin veteran, now 91, did just that during a brief visit to this base, where guard towers and barbed-wire fences are long gone but some of the two-story wooden barracks that once housed German prisoners still stand.

He declared his capture by the Americans at the…

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FAQ: Is it all hype? Tunneling into Missouri’s chances for Hyperloop

Startland News

Virgin Hyperloop One might seem like a pipe dream.

But the prospect of Kansas Citians reaching St. Louis in only 23 minutes is more realistic than many think.

In fact, according to recent reports, Missouri has at least a 20 percent chance at landing Hyperloop, a yet-to-be-realized transportation system that moves people and freight at subsonic speeds.

Hyperloop is a 760 miles-per-hour transit system described as high-speed rail travel in a vacuum. A series of interconnected tubes create a low-pressure environment in which levitated pods are propelled by electric motors, gliding with limited friction at speeds that surpass air travel.

Sounds cool, right? Or is it just hype?

Startland News has been fielding a lot of questions from readers about the proposed Hyperloop system that would connect Kansas City to St. Louis. Hyperloop has left some of its details ambiguous — including what it means to be a winner of its global competition.

So, to clear up what we can, here’s a download of what we know.

Wait … Missouri is still in the running for a Hyperloop Route? I thought it lost out?

In May 2016, Hyperloop launched a global competition that garnered more than 2,600 interested applicants from across the globe. In April 2017, the company named 11 semifinalist routes in the United States that could receive its transportation system — Kansas City to St. Louis being one of them.

Later in April, Hyperloop launched an online poll asking residents to weigh in on which route they would most like to see. The poll from Hyperloop was not an official contest, the company said. Startland News cannot confirm the poll had any effect on the company’s decision-making process and results were never shared.

In September, the firm announced four winners of the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Although the company did not explicitly say that the Kansas City-to-St. Louis route was out of the running, it was not mentioned nor selected as a winner.

The firm said in the release that it planned to work closely with the winning teams to determine each route’s commercial viability. Additionally, Hyperloop and the Colorado Department of Transportation entered a public-private partnership to begin a feasibility study in Colorado.

Omitted from the winners list, it appeared that Missouri was out of luck. But to observers’ surprise, Hyperloop announced in October that it also entered a public-private partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation, along with several other partners, to study the I-70 route’s feasibility.

A few weeks later, Hyperloop’s global head of policy, Dan Katz, told the Associated Press that the Kansas City-to-St. Louis route was not only among the top five, but potentially among the top three.

Who else is in the running?

What did MoDOT’s original proposal to Hyperloop highlight?

Missouri heavily highlighted its logistics and transportation strengths as part of its Hyperloop proposal.

Dubbing itself the “transportation crossroads” of the U.S., Missouri’s pitch says it is located within 500 miles of 43 percent of the U.S. population, 44 percent of all U.S. manufacturing plants and seven of the top 25 international cargo hubs in the U.S. Trucks, planes, barges and trains move “1.1 billion tons of freight each year valued at $1.3 trillion,” the proposal reads.

In addition, the state’s transportation network includes 4,800 miles of railroad tracks, 123 public-use airports and 15 public ports, the proposal reads. Kansas City and St. Louis are also the nation’s second and third largest freight rail hubs, respectively.

“Bounded and bisected by the nation’s two mightiest rivers, our location provided the jumping off point for America’s westward expansion,” MoDOT said in the proposal. “That movement of settlers and their provisions touched off the need for a national transportation system. Pioneers came forward and answered the call with innovations that have played an important part in Missouri’s history, its character, its pride and its success.”Colorado and Missouri are the only two states that announced public-private partnerships with the firm, despite there being other “winning” routes. The Associated Press reported Oct. 19 that Texas is also conducting a feasibility study for its Dallas-Laredo-Houston route.

Other winning U.S. routes in the Hyperloop Global Challenge are Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh and Miami-Orlando.

In other parts of the world, Hyperloop announced winning routes in India, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Canada.

What does Missouri’s proposed route look like?

The exact connection points are not certain, however, the MoDOT proposal suggested a route from Independence to Columbia to Lake St. Louis. In the Kansas City metro, “feeder spurs” from Kansas City International Airport, Edgerton, Kansas, and Grandview could link to the “mainline.” In St. Louis, the proposal highlighted feeder spurs from St. Louis-Lambert International Airport and Weldon Spring.

Did KC’s Amazon HQ2 proposal mention Hyperloop?

Yes. You can view Missouri’s Amazon HQ2 website by clicking here. The main video specifically mentions Hyperloop. If you scroll lower, the website also includes a video from Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop.

What does the national press have to say?

The regained traction of the Missouri Hyperloop proposal has piqued the interest of national media.

TechCrunch, the Verge and Inc. are among the national news outlets to have covered the Show Me State’s commitment to building the speedy route.

The Verge reports that even though Missouri was not a winner in the global challenge, Hyperloop sees Missouri’s coalition as validation of its product.

Hyperloop’s Katz told the Verge that the Kansas City-St.Louis route is “incredibly straight,” which is important for the hyperloop pods to achieve optimal speeds. The company is also interested in the prospect of looping in the city of Columbia, home of the University of Missouri.

“Looking at the proposed routes in Missouri, it’s really one of the best we’ve ever seen,” Katz, told the Verge. “It’s about as attractive a route as we’ve seen.”

When do we find out more information?

The National recently reported that Hyperloop CEO Rob Lloyd hopes to roll out its tech in 2019. So while we are not sure when more information will be revealed on Missouri’s route, Startland News will update you as soon as possible. Sign up for our email digest at startlandnews.com/subscribe for email updates.

Getting There: 700-mph Hyperloop, third-rail ban, billion-dollar bridge and other transportation updates

Ct Post By Jim Cameron

In July, I wrote about tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s idea to build a 700-mph tube system to whisk passengers from Washington to New York in 29 minutes. Using a combination of a near-vacuum and linear induction motors, I noted that Musk has yet to build a working full-scale prototype, and called him “the PT Barnum of technology,” offering “more hype than hope.”

At the time, Musk had just gone public after a meeting at the White House, saying he’d been given “approval” to start boring giant tunnels for his project. I scoffed at the notion, but have been proven wrong.

Sure enough, a reader recently informed me that Maryland’s governor has given Musk permission to start digging 10 miles of tunnels under the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to eventually link the two cities. Boring will cost up to $1 billion a mile. So, though I remain skeptical of Hyperloop’s future, I stand corrected.

In October, I wrote about our state’s complex electric system to power Metro-North. In Connecticut, those trains rely on overhead catenary to get power, but in Westchester County and into Grand Central, the trains convert to third rail.

Given the perennial problems with the overhead wires, both old and new, I explained why converting to a third-rail system in Connecticut didn’t make sense: the trains would accelerate slower and we would still need catenary for Amtrak.

What I didn’t know was that third-rail power was banned by the state Supreme Court in 1906 after a center-track third rail power system installed by the New Haven Railroad resulted in several electrocutions near Hartford.

Clearly, the third-rail power system in use today is much safer than the one experimented with a century ago, but in this land of steady habits, overturning that ban might be a challenge.

In October, I wrote about our state’s complex electric system to power Metro-North. In Connecticut, those trains rely on overhead catenary to get power, but in Westchester County and into Grand Central, the trains convert to third rail.

Given the perennial problems with the overhead wires, both old and new, I explained why converting to a third-rail system in Connecticut didn’t make sense: the trains would accelerate slower and we would still need catenary for Amtrak.

What I didn’t know was that third-rail power was banned by the state Supreme Court in 1906 after a center-track third rail power system installed by the New Haven Railroad resulted in several electrocutions near Hartford.

Clearly, the third-rail power system in use today is much safer than the one experimented with a century ago, but in this land of steady habits, overturning that ban might be a challenge.

Preliminary work to replace the 121-year-old Walk Bridge in South Norwalk continues apace, even as local elections have turned the project into a political hot-potato. Some oppose the cost and disruption of replacing the swing bridge with a two-section lift bridge while others, more nostalgic, want the new bridge to resemble the old. Those proposing a fixed bridge, effectively closing the Norwalk River to commercial boat traffic, are keeping their hopes alive even though the state DOT has rejected that idea.

Rumors that construction of the new bridge might require demolition of the Norwalk Aquarium’s IMAX theater seem to have been confirmed. But the real heavy construction won’t begin until 2019, so there’s plenty of time to catch a movie.