An effort to bring the hyperloop to Missouri continued as a committee met Tuesday in Jefferson City to plan for the innovative technology.
The new transportation technology, being developed by the company Virgin Hyperloop One, would theoretically be able to carry passengers from St. Louis to Kansas City in 25-28 minutes in pods that travel through large tubes. Missouri is one of multiple locations across the globe hoping to get one of the first hyperloop routes.
“There are a lot of people around the world paying attention to what we’re doing here,” said Andrew Smith, the Missouri Hyperloop project liaison. “If we get the track, we’ll be by definition the epicenter of this technology.”
A 1,500-foot-long track in Nevada is being used to test and develop the technology, but Smith said 10-15 miles of track will have to be built to show the technology will work.
Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, created the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop to plan for the introduction of the project, focusing on funding and financing, legislation and regulation, higher education and economic impact.
Halfway through Tuesday’s meeting, panel members broke out into working groups to discuss these categories, but during a general discussion, they debated what was needed in their preliminary research.
Joe Reagan, the former president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, said the committee needed to focus on working with other states to prepare for the future of the technology.
“If not, there are probably slingshots that are more economical and faster,” Reagan said.
Other issues that came up included whether to include possible hyperloop routes in an initial public report. Some in attendance Tuesday expressed concern that potential land acquisitions would upset people before more information was available.
Smith said he expects the hyperloop to be funded by a public-private partnership to relieve taxpayers of much of the risk. He added that the project’s backers will look into federal technology grants that are available.
A “shell” report is expected from the panel by Sept. 16, and the group’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Columbia. At that meeting, members will talk about any findings and issues they have, and vote on recommendations they will give to Haahr.
However, Smith said the group will take more time if they need it.
“It’s more important to get this right than to get this fast,” Smith said.