A hyperloop highway might sound like something out of a Blade Runner-esque future, but it is very much a thing of the present as the Midwest may find out soon enough. The high-speed transport rail could allow regional travelers to go from Pittsburgh to Chicago in an hour, cutting an unthinkable six hours off the commute on existing highways.
Two companies have been chosen by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to head research on the potential project that includes environmental impact measures and overall feasibility testing, according to Next Pittsburgh.
Los Angeles-based engineering firm AECOM will head the feasibility study while exploring route options through the Midwest, while fellow engineering firm WSP USA will take charge of the environmental impact study.
The route study is expected to be completed by 2019 and is expected to go through Chicago; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Lima, Ohio; Marysville, Ohio; Columbus; and Pittsburgh.
“This is the first route in the world that incorporates Hyperloop technology into both a feasibility study and an environmental impact study,” MORPC Executive Director William Murdock said of the studies, according to Next Pittsburgh’s report. “MORPC and its public and private partners in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania are excited to take this important next step in moving innovative transportation technology forward in Central Ohio and across the Midwest.”
The hyperloop highway idea stems from the Virgin Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition that saw one of 10 winners present the so-called Midwest Connect for the ambitious project connecting two of the Midwest’s most important hubs.
The people at Virgin Hyperloop One know a thing or two about such high-speed rail systems as they are the only company with a fully functional hyperloop system in the world, Next Pittsburgh notes.
“It is because of visionary transportation agencies like MORPC that hyperloop is moving forward in the United States,” said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd. “We are excited to collaborate with these world-class public and private sector partners to connect the Midwest with rapid speed transport that will fuel future economic activity.”