A few years ago, if you mentioned the Hyperloop in Missouri, you would have been met with a great deal of excitement. But that excitement declined in 2020 when Virgin Hyperloop announced it had chosen West Virginia as the home for its futuristic tube travel test track and certification center.
However, Missourians may not have to wait long for their excitement to rise again. Virgin Hyperloop spokesman Ryan Kelly highlighted Missouri as a prime candidate for the company’s future plans.
“We still plan to continue work with some of the states that we’ve been talking to including Missouri, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina and a couple more to really look at where the first projects could be once our technology is safety certified,” said Kelly. “If you think about how the interstate highway system came around when (President) Eisenhower decided to make that investment, even though it was based in Missouri, it was a national campaign. That’s where it started, but obviously not where it finished.”
Virgin Hyperloop is a private company with the mission of transforming transportation through its ultra-fast Hyperloop system. The tube-based autonomous transportation system uses electric propulsion to accelerate pods that levitate slightly above the track, thanks to strategically placed magnets that create magnetic fields. Additionally, it can leverage renewable energy, such as wind, solar and kinetic energy, to operate. The system would offer on-demand service, departing stations as often as every 20 seconds.
Missouri was among the top contenders to locate the company’s initial test track. The proposed Kansas City-to-St. Louis route along Interstate 70 would transport passengers in less than 30 minutes, compared to about 3.5 hours by car.
“The vision that (Missouri) had for something like this is really commendable and exciting,” said Kelly. “We want to continue forward to talk to the state and continue to look at a path forward – for not only Missouri but for America as well.”
Missouri has always been the jumping-off point of the exploration of new frontiers. Shortly after being acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, it was St. Charles, Missouri, where Lewis and Clark began their expedition of the new territory. The Pony Express launched in St. Joseph, Missouri, transporting mail to Sacramento. And when the automobile revolutionized the transportation movement, the contracts for the first Interstate highway system were signed in Missouri. The Spirit of St. Louis wasn’t just the name of Charles Lindbergh’s plane. It is emblematic of our state’s devotion to pushing the envelope in transportation.