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We’ve got some Hyperloop news, y’all.
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) released the final report of its “Midwest Connect” Hyperloop Feasibility Study, and it may be time to get a little hyped because it was good news. The study found that hyperloop technology is definitely feasible along the corridor connecting Columbus with Chicago (via Lima, Ohio and Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Pittsburgh.
The feasibility study got started in late 2018 and is part of MORPC’s Rapid Speed Transportation INitiative that focuses on better, faster connections to Chicago and Pittsburgh. The RSTI is looking at transportation options that enhance passenger and freight transportation in the Midwest and that also spur economic growth, generate opportunities for development, and create new opportunities for people and businesses in the area.
“We have continued to advance the work along this corridor ever since winning the Virgin Hyperloop One Global Challenge for the Midwest Connect route, and conducting this feasibility study was one of our first, major action steps,” MORPC Transportation & Infrastructure Development Director Thea Ewing said. “The main takeaway is that hyperloop technology is, indeed, feasible along this route at its optimal speeds of more than 500 mph.”
The study also concluded that potential stations in Ohio include Lima, Marysville, Dublin, and Columbus. There is no passenger rail service connecting the Fort Wayne-Lima-Columbus-Pittsburgh market. In fact, Columbus is the second-largest metro area in the US without a passenger rail service.
According to the study, over the course of 30 years, the hyperloop route would result in 1.9 billion autos shifted to hyperloop passengers, 2.4 million tons of reduced CO2 emissions, and $300 billion in overall economic benefits.
Currently, a $0.20 per mile fare cost is estimated, which means you could travel from Columbus to Chicago for around $60 and Columbus to Pittsburgh for around $33, all in under 30 minutes.
“MORPC began presenting some of the initial findings to communities along the corridor last fall, and we used the feedback to summarize the study’s various data-driven analyses in a manner that would be comprehensive and understandable,” MORPC Strategic Projects Manager Dina López said. “With this final report, we can continue moving forward with the Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative’s main objective of providing affordable, faster intercity connections with both hyperloop and passenger rail technologies.”
The hyperloop feasibility study was conducted by AECOM on behalf of MORPC and its Ohio partners, which include Union County and the cities of Lima, Kenton, Marysville, Dublin, and Columbus.
So what comes next? MORPC will need to collaborate with stakeholders to advance a certification corridor segment for Virgin Hyperloop One technology in Central Ohio, create a travel and economic demand advisory panel to improve and refine the feasibility study, as well as work with state and federal transportation officials to advance a regulatory framework for hyperloop technology.
It seems far away and it’s hard to imagine, but we’re still one step closer to this amazing technology coming to Columbus. If you’d like to read more about the feasibility study, you can visit the MORPC website here.
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