The New York Times ran a piece this month that explores the potential for hyperloop development. But it's all happening under the shadow of a different transportation project. California's high-speed rail has been affected by ballooning costs, an ever-expanding timeline, and political turmoil.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom intends to complete a 110-mile segment in his state's Central Valley, but this is far from the most obvious or profitable route and the project as a whole might be scaled back. The U.S. Department of Transportation is not only pulling back nearly $1 billion in federal funding from the project, but it is also looking at legal options to claw back an additional $2.5 billion.
This debacle leads naturally to conversations about hyperloop. Would it incur the same setbacks? Do its distinguishing features make it a more worthwhile undertaking? The low-pressure system reduces the amount of power needed to shuttle along pods of passengers and freight. It's eco-friendly.
In the NYTimes piece, HARP board member Rick Geddes said that right-of-way and permitting issues will remain a challenge. But the world might be ready for a new mode of transport.
"Time is more and more a valuable commodity," Geddes told the paper. "The transportation industry is ready for a new way of thinking."
People intrigued by this new mode of transport may also be interested in the upcoming HARP conference at the Colorado School of Mines. The event is set to take place on July 8th and 9th of this year. The focus will be on infrastructure, rights-of-way, and energy. Speakers will bring to bear their considerable expertise in tunnelling research, renewable energy systems, economics, and the politics of transportation.
In the coming weeks, check back on the HARP website for conference registration info.