Plans to bring Hyperloop, a high-tech transportation system that could allow for a 30-minute trip between St. Louis and Kansas City, to Missouri was the talk of a task force meeting Wednesday.
The idea sounds like it’s straight out of “The Jetsons,” but it could become a reality in the very near future, Andrew Smith of the St. Louis Regional Chamber said at a meeting of the 21st Century Missouri Transportation System Task Force.
With a Hyperloop transportation system, the 250-mile trip from St. Louis to Kansas City would take only 25 minutes. The new technology, developed by California-based Hyperloop One, uses magnetic levitation to propel a train-like pod at incredible speeds.
The company will pick a place in the next two years to build its first completely operational Hyperloop, and Missouri is one of three American finalists. The Show-Me State is a particularly attractive destination because of its central location, Smith said.
“There’s a reason why the U.S. interstate system started in Missouri,” Smith said. “It’s because of where we’re located. It’s a good place to start building a national network.”
Under the current proposal, the route would extend from St. Louis to Lawrence, Kansas, with stops in Columbia and Kansas City. The whole trip would take just over half an hour.
The proposal was created by the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, a public-private partnership, and has been heavily supported by the Missouri Department of Transportation. UM System President Mun Choi has also expressed support for the plan.
To remain in contention for the project, the coalition would need to conduct a $1.5 million feasibility study to determine the actual implications of building a Hyperloop across Missouri. The other American finalists in Texas and Colorado have already taken strides in that direction, Smith said.
If Missouri’s bid for the project is successful, it could have far-reaching significance for economic development and growth. With plans to build a Hyperloop, the state would be more appealing to Amazon as the company considers where to build its second headquarters, Smith said.
Hyperloop One will make its final decision on where to build its first route in late 2018 or early 2019. The company plans to complete construction on the route by 2021, according to its website.