Hyperloop panel preparing report on bringing high-speed transportation to Missouri – Jefferson City News Tribune

Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop discussed its impending report during its possibly second-to-last meeting Tuesday.

The group is scheduled to deliver its report to Haahr next month.

The report will fulfill Haahr’s charge to the group to provide two things — a specific outline of how Missouri could develop a Hyperloop system and how to make Missouri the global center for the development of the technology, said Vice Chairman Andrew Smith, of St. Louis.

“That’s a separate thing from building a route,” Smith said. “We think eventually these routes are going to be everywhere, but not everywhere is going to be the center of the industry. We want to be the center of the industry and so we’re very focused on building the certification track here.”

The certification track is the first step to developing a true commercial route of the ultra high-speed transportation method, which could potentially take passengers from Kansas City to St. Louis in a span of 30-40 minutes.

The panel has been working with Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop One, which has already developed a test track in Nevada, and had a feasibility study done by Kansas City’s Black & Veatch engineering firm.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the panel discussed the upcoming report for Haahr, which will include four sections developed by working groups within the panel focusing on legislative and regulatory affairs, economic impact and cost-benefit analysis, higher education partnership, and funding and financing.

Drafts of those sections will be due to Smith by Sept. 16, at which point he will combine them into a full final draft of the report, according to the current schedule. That report will be sent back out to the panel, and members will have a chance to review it up until the final meeting Sept. 27.

At that meeting, the panel will go over any final issues and, Smith hopes, take a final vote to submit the report to the speaker.

Smith feels Tuesday’s meeting brought some clarity to what is expected for the report.

“We have a better understanding of where we stand with each of the report sections and big questions that have to be answered still,” Smith said. “We also started talking about the process that we need to go to between now and the final report. A month and a half seems like a lot of time, but we also have a lot of work to do in a month and a half, so I think we’re going to really have to work hard and work really smart as a group to meet that deadline.”

Also Tuesday, the panel discussed ongoing similar projects in other ares, including another Virgin Hyperloop One project in India and beginning feasibility studies being done in Canada. The speaker and the panel want to get to the certification track first, and there are eyes on Missouri.

“I think we should all be aware that, despite the fact that we’re buried in a conference room below the Missouri Capitol, there are a lot of people around the world paying attention to the work we’ve been doing because it’s groundbreaking. It hasn’t been done before,” Smith said to the panel.

For Smith, getting that certification track is a guarantee the Kansas City-St. Louis commercial route will follow.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop is scheduled to meet again Sept. 27.


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