COLUMBUS — It would appear that a newly created, tube-based rapid transportation system may be on the fast track to becoming a reality in the Midwest, including Ohio.
Hyperloop One has selected a route connecting Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh as one of 10 global finalists in a competition seeking to find the optimal location for the project. The route, which could include Lima, is one of four U.S.-based routes to make the top 10, including Dallas-Laredo-Houston, Cheyenne-Denver-Pueblo and Miami-Orlando. Toronto-Montreal and Mexico City-Guadalajara are the other North American finalists.
The technology involves using magnetic levitation in a near-vacuum tube to help reduce aerodynamic drag, meaning pods inside the tubes could exceed airliner speeds. Using this technology, commuters and freight could travel from Lima to Columbus in 15 minutes, or from Chicago to Pittsburgh in less than an hour.
In a blog by Hyperloop One Strategic Communications Manager Leslie Horwitz, the proposal was appealing due to the “several thriving technology and manufacturing clusters” in the Great Lakes region.
“What we can bring in the Midwest is a lot of talent and a lot of resources,” Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Executive Director William Murdock said. “We have very vibrant communities that have the engineering and construction and the experience to perhaps implement something like this, as well as a knowledge base to tap into. That’s really compelling for our application.”
According to Murdock, Hyperloop One will meet with the various agencies involved in making the proposal in the next few months to look at how to potentially implement this plan and bring this new technology to the region, a potentially multi-year process.
Allen Economic Development Group President and CEO Jeff Sprague said this could represent a significant economic development opportunity for Allen County, comparing this technology to the development of the interstate highway system.
“It could play out to be an advantage to us for future development or future collaboration,” he said. “You look at the interstate system when it was built out and what came along with that. This could be the new superhighway, and any time you can get along that corridor, it would be to your advantage.”