Hyperloop — no longer just a pipe dream for Columbus?


Five months after winning an international challenge from Virgin Hyperloop One, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is ready to announce “the first step” of the proposed project in a “major announcement.”

In September 2017, MORPC’s proposal to link Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago via high-speed transportation was chosen as one of 10 winners around the globe by Hyperloop One, a division of the Virgin Group. English business magnate and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is the Hyperloop One chairman.

In a release at the time, Hyperloop One said the 10 winners qualify for “meaningful business and engineering resources and work closely with each of the winning teams/routes to determine their commercial viability.”

The other winning routes, which represent Canada, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, are Toronto-Montreal in Canada, Bengaluru-Chennai and Mumbai-Chennai in India, Edinburgh-London and Glasgow-Liverpool in the United Kingdom, Mexico City-Guadalajara in Mexico and Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo, Dallas-Laredo-Houston and Miami-Orlando in the U.S.

Now, according to Thea Walsh, MORPC’s director of transportation systems and funding, the organization is ready for a “major announcement” that will involve “the first step we’ll be taking with Hyperloop One” sometime during the week of Feb. 19.

Though Walsh and MORPC spokeswoman Bernice Cage said they could not provide any information on what that announcement would entail, Walsh said the concept is feeling more real than ever after MORPC officials took a trip last month to visit Hyperloop One’s first working concept, called DevLoop, in Nevada.

“I used to say decades on something like this,” Walsh said. “But transportation planning is moving so much faster than it used to. Things that are taking decades are now taking years.”

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