A task force says a high-speed tube travel system – like a Hyperloop – is estimated to create up to $3.6 billion annually in economic impact and create as many as 17,200 new jobs in Missouri. The group’s 176-page report released today also says the travel network could reduce I-70 vehicle crash injuries and fatalities up to 50%.
Vice-Chair Andrew Smith says Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr tasked the members with creating a road map to commercialize a Hyperloop in the state.
“What has to happen initially is a certification track, that would be between ten and twelve miles long, that would allow the system to reach maximum speeds, that would test it under various conditions and where the national regulators, the federal DOT, could come and certify it for human safety,” says Smith.
Virgin Hyperloop One has a one-mile test track in the Nevada desert with a non-commercial sized pod reaching test speeds up to 245 mph.
A Hyperloop is said to have the ability to haul passengers by as much as 670 mph from Kansas City to St. Louis in about 30 minutes. The cost for a test track, which Smith says would be mostly private funding, is estimated to be roughly $300 million to $500 million with the goal of building the site in one to two years.
He says the reason why Missouri should lead the charge of a test track instead of leaving it to Virgin Hyperloop is that launching a new mode of transportation requires government involvement to regulate and certify. He also says a Hyperloop would likely intersect and connect with other forms of transportation.
Smith says a Hyperloop would move things faster and cheaper.
“Highways did not eliminate railroads. Airplanes did not eliminate highways,” says Smith. “Hyperloop is not going to eliminate any existing mode of transportation or freight delivery.”
In early November, Virgin Hyperloop One plans to submit a Request for Proposals for the construction of a certification track and make a decision on the bidding process in early 2020. The location of a recommended test track is up in the air. The task force estimates a full 250-mile Hyperloop track along Interstate-70 would cost about $7 billion to $10 billion and be mainly privately funded.
“I would look to sovereign funds – you know sovereign investment funds, major international hedge funds, major infrastructure investment groups,” says Smith. “There are pretty well-known players out there that are not shy about how much money they have to bring to the table.”
Another critical piece of the report recommends that the University of Missouri system partners with several universities to form an international research center. The report says the project must get $50 to $100 million for research and development within the next three years.
Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe and Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr of Springfield are both releasing details of the report during stops today in Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis.
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