California’s ambitious high-speed rail system may be getting some competition in market for ultra-fast transport in the Golden State. The developers of Quay Valley, a new 12,000-acre uber-sustainable planned community in Kings County, have signed a deal to construct a five-mile, $100 million test track for the Hyperloop, a high-speed transit mode envisioned by Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk.
The solar-powered Hyperloop would transport passengers in aluminum pods at supersonic speeds through a long-distance network of elevated steel tubes. At 800 miles an hour, passengers could travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just 30 minutes.
And just as the California High Speed Rail is making use of existing rail alignments, Hyperloop would be constructed alongside Interstate 5 to minimize land acquisition costs. Musk has put the cost of such a system in the neighborhood of $6 billion.
While Musk has announced plans to develop his own Hyperloop test facility in Texas, the Quay Valley project shows he’s not the only one enamored with the concept. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc., a loose-knit start-up organization of 100 engineers and UCLA students contracted to build the project, has been working on a technical feasibility study and will soon start work on prototypes. The Quay Valley track now offers the opportunity to put those ideas to the test immediately should construction begin next year as scheduled.
The system is set to be operational in 2019 assuming, of course, there’s a community to serve. The Quay Valley project has been tied up in litigation over water rights for several years, and still faces an uncertain future. While the track would still serve as a valuable location for testing and refining the technology, its owners may find themselves left with little more than a Hyperloop to nowhere.