Suppose you step into a pod and are transported to a destination via vacuum tube hurtling over 600 miles per hour. You might think that you were in a science fiction film, but if some Texas officials have their way, you could be traveling between north Texas cities in the next decade by hyperloop technology.
Hyperloop is an autonomous transportation system that could move people or freight by propelling magnetic-levitating vehicle pods through low-pressure tubes at high speeds. It claims to be safe, fast, and energy-efficient.
Virgin Hyperloop One has been working on the technology since 2014 and has a test facility in Nevada. However, the privately-held company is now seeking to build a six-mile certification track to further test the safety and efficiency of the technology and to satisfy government regulations.
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) plans to submit a proposal in December to Virgin Hyperloop One to bring its certification track to the area, explained Kevin Feldt, program manager at NCTCOG.
They will work with the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, trade associations, and local governments to present a competitive proposal to Virgin Hyperloop One.
When asked if the track project would include any taxpayer funding, Feldt said it was too early to know although he did not rule out a public-private partnership.
Feldt suggested that the track might be constructed along Highway 360, but added that NCTCOG would be soliciting location suggestions from local government leaders before submitting the proposal.
Virgin Hyperloop One would like to begin construction on the track before 2021 and hopefully start testing in 2025, Feldt said.
The hyperloop tubes would be set on columns and would be about 30 feet tall and between 60 and 80 feet wide.
If the certification process is successful, the hyperloop technology may be considered for wider application for high-speed travel across the state.
Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes, who is a member of the Regional Transportation Council for NCTCOG, is interested in the hyperloop technology.
“It is a dynamic concept and a fascinating means of technology,” commented Fickes. “I would foresee it being a private venture. The private sector is the best way to accomplish it profitably and quickly,” he added.
Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.