Central Ohio considered for hyperloop test track

By Mark Ferenchik - The Columbus Dispatch

Virgin Hyperloop One is considering central Ohio as a site for a test track and related facilities.

“We can confirm we are looking at Ohio,” said Ryan Kelly, Virgin Hyperloop One’s head of marketing and communications.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission submitted a proposal for what is being called a certification center as Virgin Hyperloop continues to work toward a Chicago-to-Pittsburgh route that would pass through Columbus.

That “Midwest Connection” route is one of 10 finalists that Virgin Hyperloop is considering to be the first track to be built in the United States. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is spending $2.5 million on a feasibility study, and is working on an environmental study.

Virgin is to make a decision on the certification center by the end of this year, Kelly said. He would not said who else is on the short list. According to MSNBC, 17 states submitted proposals, including at least Delaware, Georgia, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

The regional planning commission said the Ohio proposal team sees the six-to-10-mile-long test track and certification center in the northwestern part of central Ohio. The Transportation Research Center, a joint project of Honda and Ohio State University, is about 48 miles northwest of Columbus near East Liberty. No one could provide an estimate for what the project would cost.

“There’s a lot of smart transportation, a lot of work going on in that area,” said Thea Walsh, director of transportation and infrastructure development for the regional planning commission.

Brett Roubinek, president and CEO of the Transportation Research Center, said his group is working with all central Ohio organizations to win this.

“This location makes perfect sense for Virgin Hyperloop’s next chapter,” Roubinek said.

“We’ve been working in development and research into new transportation technologies going on 47 years.”

Roubinek said he toured Virgin’s DevLoop test site in Nevada.

“I think that it’s absolutely breathtaking and groundbreaking technology,” he said, calling a chance to link Pittsburgh and Chicago through Columbus an incredible opportunity.

Walsh said Virgin was seeking a six-mile-long test facility to prove to the U.S. Department of Transportation that the technology could be deployed in the U.S.

“I think that it is an excellent opportunity for Virgin and the hyperloop industry to test in central Ohio. We have experience testing transportation technology in our region,” Walsh said.


By Mark Ferenchik

The Columbus Dispatch

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