JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bipartisan panel consisting of lawmakers, public officials, and private businesspersons has been formed to determine whether it is feasible to build a hyperloop in Missouri.
The special Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop is expected to meet for the first time this month and will submit a report to House Speaker Elijah Haahr in September. Chaired by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, the high-level task force will explore the possibility of establishing Missouri as the global epicenter for research and development of emerging technology.
“We are early in the process, but ahead of the game when it comes to this issue,” Haahr said. “This project represents a transformational economic development opportunity for Missouri…We have a real opportunity to serve as a gateway to the future of transportation.”
The route under consideration in Missouri would enable travel between Kansas City and St. Louis in roughly 30 minutes.
Kansas City-based engineering company Black & Veatch released a nine-month feasibility study in October that estimate the cost between $7 billion and $10 billion. The study by the global engineering company concluded the Hyperloop One route along Interstate 70 would dramatically improve cross-state travel while delivering safety and sustainability benefits.
“Our first-of-its-kind feasibility study demonstrated Hyperloop can work in Missouri,” said panel member Clinton Robinson, Associate Vice President and Director of State and Local Government Affairs for Black & Veatch. “We look forward to working with the panel and the citizens of Missouri in exploring how Hyperloop can elevate how we move people and goods across the state.”
Virgin Hyperloop One, the company developing the high-speed travel technology, is looking to more in-depth at what that would look like. Diana Zhou, the Director of Project Strategy at Virgin Hyperloop One, told the Missouri Times that there is still a lot of work to be done before a Missouri route is a reality.
“This is a chance for Missouri to position itself as a global tech leader,” said Blue Ribbon Panel Vice-Chair Andrew Smith of the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “Bringing this technology to Missouri would serve as a powerful talent magnet and a significant boost for our technology, logistics, and manufacturing sectors.”
Members of the Blue Ribbon Panel include Sen. Caleb Rowden, Sen. Brian Williams, Rep. Travis Fitzwater, Rep. Derek Grier, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, Director of Economic Development Rob Dixon, University of Missouri President Mun Choi, as well as a number of private sector leaders and subject matter experts from around the state.
“I look forward to working with the Speaker, members of the legislature, and the Blue Ribbon Panel to help advance this project,” said Kehoe.
The announcement of the panel comes on the same day as the federal government forms a council to support commercializing hyperloop technology.
The Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council, which aims to explore the regulation and permitting of hyperloop technology to bring this new form of mass transportation to the United States, was announced by Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
“New technologies increasingly straddle more than one mode of transportation, so I’ve signed an order creating a new internal Department council to better coordinate the review of innovations that have multi-modal applications,” said Secretary Chao.
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.