Kansas City, Mo., is hoping to become the first city in the U.S., and perhaps the world, to deploy Hyperloop transportation technology. A task force of experts is expected to report on construction and funding possibilities to the Missouri House of Representatives by fall of this year.
Last year, Black & Veatch completed a feasibility study on a potential Hyperloop route that would connect Kansas City and St. Louis by a half-hour ride. The cities are 247.7 miles apart, and the drive on I-70 normally takes about four hours.
The Hyperloop capsule, containing passengers and cargo, would accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The vehicle would float above the track using magnetic levitation and glide at airline speeds for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag, according to the Hyperloop website.
“The next step is to examine economic impacts and jurisdictional authority,” says Drew Thompson, director of data center and mission critical facility solutions at Black & Veatch. Although technically the Hyperloop would fall under the Federal Railroad Administration, the potential route would involve highway rights of way and thus the Federal Highway Administration, he says. Moreover, “a pressurized pod could be considered aircraft,” he adds.
While awaiting the report, Ryan Weber, president of the KC Tech Council, says a research and development center is under consideration for testing potential on-ramps and portals for the route. “I was initially a disbeliever, but after this study, I’ve changed my perception,” he says.
Thompson notes that Black & Veatch, not traditionally a transportation firm, has experience with electric vehicles and concrete tubes. “We reached out to Ollson Associates” regarding transportation, he adds.