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Feasibility Study Of Cleveland-Chicago Hyperloop Moves Forward

The Cleveland Foundation will pitch in to study whether a Cleveland-to-Chicago Hyperloop route is feasible.

The foundation is giving $200,000 to help with the study by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

NOACA and HTT signed an agreement Monday to embark on the study, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million could take up to a year. HTT will cover half the cost, while NOACA plans to devote $100,000 in staff work and $300,000 in long-range planning money for the project.  

A promotional video for the idea imagines a 28-minute travel time between Cleveland and Chicago. To make that work, Hyperloop pods would need to speed around 700 miles per hour.

No company has yet announced that it safely sent a person through a Hyperloop tube that fast. But firms have been signing agreements with local governments to study the possibility.

“Hopefully in three to five years, we might have a Hyperloop here,” HTT chief global operations officer Andrea La Mendola said. “That’s the goal.”

NOACA director Grace Gallucci said the agency is looking at cost and possible routes.

“For example, whether it is along the turnpike, or along a rail line, or an entirely different proposed corridor,” she said.

But NOACA will leave development of the technology to the inventors.

“The actual technology of the tube-and-vacuum system, really, we’re not studying that,” Gallucci said.

U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan attended Monday’s announcement, as did Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.

Some transportation advocates are skeptical of the idea.

Ken Prendergast with All Aboard Ohio said he’s not sure if the focus on Hyperloop would detract from high-speed rail.

“But that’s certainly been the case in the past, where we’ve had—any time that there’s been a, what’s the latest, new, shiny thing, it’s kept us from investing in things that work today and work now,” Prendergast said.

Prendergast said the Columbus area’s Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission is “doing it right” by studying rail connections in addition to Hyperloop.

“That would be a near-term investment, as well as a potential long-term investment in serving the intermediate markets, even if Hyperloop is in place,” he said. 

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