Northeast Ohio is getting in on the latest craze in new transportation technology – the hyperloop. Under a new proposal, a hyperloop route between Cleveland and Chicago would take just 28 minutes.
A California company called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the regional transportation agency NOACA and the Illinois Department of Transportation will study possible routes between Chicago and Cleveland.
"We came here because places like Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh have the manufacturing, the raw materials and the talented, hard working people in order to make it happen," said Andrea La Mendola, chief global operatiosns officer of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, in a statement.
A competing route – from Pittsburgh to Chicago through Columbus – is being considered by another company – Virgin Hyperloop One. That plan, which is being organized in part by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, was announced as one of 10 finalists in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.
The idea behind the hyperloop is to build a vacuum-sealed tunnel and send a passenger car through it, propelled by magnets. In theory, people could travel inside at 700 miles an hour; tests in a tunnel in Nevada have reached 240.
A route between Columbus and Chicago would take 29 minutes, while a route between Columbus and Pittsburgh would take just 18.
NOACA’s role in the study of a Cleveland to Chicago route is not fully funded, but is touted by the company as the first official agreement between a Hyperloop developer and government agencies. The study could take up to a year, and will include a look at right-of-ways along northern Ohio interstates as well as Amtrak rail lines, costs and ridership.
In September, Ohio’s Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution supporting the Columbus hyperloop effort, but did not commit any money to the idea.
MORPC says it will have an announcement about the next stages of Hyperloop planning later this month.