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Moving America Forward on a Pod with Hyperloop:

When the founding fathers of America set about building inland river ports, bridges over major waterways, and faster trails westward, they understood the potential magnificence that a connected American economy could bring.  It worked.  As a result, America evolved with a Heartland that makes things and grow things – really well.  However, the markets for these things are global and must be shipped in and out of one of America’s 926 ports.  Historically, our small ports were connected by rivers and Great Lakes to enable prosperity to be built and shared.  This made our personal movement as easy as our commercial freight lines.

 

Map sourced from www.worldportsource.com

With the advent of safe, modern commercial aviation, America re-imagined how cargo and our people should move.  Brand new cargo aviation routes emerged with the creation of FedEx in Memphis, growth in the United Parcel Service, and many other logistics providers connecting to these nodes.  Within the last generation, these experts have created enough value in their integrated networks to make next day or even same day service of an eight-ounce letter possible to almost any place in North America.  Could our grandparents have ever envisioned how easy it could be to send virtually anything in this fashion?

Today, mass transit options available from Hyperloop systems are knocking at our door.  Will America’s Heartland answer the call for a new promise to move people and their stuff faster via direct destinations by a pod?  What exactly is Hyperloop?  Hyperloop is a closed steel tube made to move cargo or people pods using magnets and controlled air at record speeds.  Once someone or something is loaded into a transport pod, clean technologies work together to move us between hundreds of miles.

Hyperloop technologies are competing to build new tracks and smart developments all over the world, from Toulouse, France to the Guizhou Providence in China.  Some of these tracks promise to move people and their things at roughly the speed of sound, or 760 MPH. This is a speed which could move someone from Cleveland to St. Louis in under an hour, compared to what is normally a 4-hour flight, and smartly connect two cities that are almost 500 miles apart.  Check out sample city to city routes for yourself here.

These connections and innovations are only possible with the commitment of the Heartland’s state, local, and federal leaders.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, America currently spent about $300 billion on its transportation infrastructure in 2017, with over half of that dedicated to highways.  With over seventy billion in federal government funds now dedicated to mass transit and rail, Hyperloop should find its way into this group of transport funding options.  One smart way to start now would be using private financing with interstate compacts to make new investments possible over time.

Building a Heartland Hyperloop will require upgrading our state transportation plans and eligible public and private funds at all levels of government. The Heartland has been given an opportunity to lead transportation innovation once again, much like we did when President Eisenhower chose Missouri to begin the first mile of the American Interstate Highway system in 1956. It’s time for the Heartland to lead American infrastructure into the 21st century.