Missouri hopes to be the home of a hyperloop test track that could lead to making the state the epicenter for development of the new form of transportation.
State House Speaker Elijah Haahr and other officials released a Blue Ribbon Panel’s report Monday on the Francis Quadrangle at MU.
For the past year and a half, a panel created by Haahr has investigated the feasibility of a 12- to 15-mile hyperloop test track, working alongside Virgin Hyperloop One.
Hyperloop technology is a proposed energy-efficient transportation system that uses magnetic levitation and vacuum technology to move “pods” through a tube from one destination to another.
The system will be composed of a series of pods that hold about 28 people each. They communicate with each other digitally and will reach speeds up to 620 mph, according to previous Missourian reporting.
The panel, led by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, has created a 176-page report outlining its recommendations for building the hyperloop in Missouri.
Haahr said Missouri hopes to be a leader in modern transportation innovation. To do so, the state must compete with several others including Texas, Ohio and South Carolina to be the first to construct a test track for the hyperloop.
Haahr said that when Virgin Hyperloop releases a request for proposals, the panel prepared to be as equipped as possible to put in multiple submissions from Missouri.
Haahr said Missouri has some built-in advantages, including a straight-line between St. Louis and Kansas City, two large rail hubs on either side of the state and “having one of the top engineering schools in the country right in the middle. Everything comes together to put Missouri in a competitive spot for this program.”
The state that will host the test track will become the hub of the first commercial hyperloop track. As outlined in the report, this opportunity could result in Missouri having the first commercial track, creating a “new mega-region” that would connect St. Louis to Kansas City. In turn, this would “significantly increase Missouri’s global competitiveness for high quality jobs and talents.”
The report suggested the need for a private-public partnership to fund and construct the test track.
The estimated cost of the certification test track is between $300 million and $500 million, according to Haahr’s office. The estimated cost for the commercial track stretching from St. Louis to Kansas City is between $7.3 billion and $10.4 billion.
Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said the state would not fund this project alone, building a public-private partnership, and that participating in what could be the next big thing in transportation is worth the investment.
“It is expensive, so the details need to get worked out,” Fitzpatrick said, “but I think we definitely need to keep an open mind as a state.”