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Hyperloop feasibility study planned for St. Louis to Kansas City route

A proposed hyperloop transportation system would connect Missouri’s two major metropolitan hubs.
provided | VectorSTL
A proposed hyperloop transportation system would connect Missouri’s two major metropolitan hubs.";

A proposed hyperloop would transport people between Missouri’s two major hubs in under 30 minutes.

A feasibility study will get underway in February to look at whether it makes sense to go forward with the route. The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, comprised of public and private groups, raised the $1.5 million funding for the study and made the announcement Tuesday.

Black & Veatch, a Kansas City-based engineering, consulting and construction company, will lead the feasibility study in partnership with the University of Missouri System and Virgin Hyperloop One, the private company spearheading the new mode of transportation.

The technology uses a pod that transports passengers and cargo by electric propulsion through an aboveground vacuum tube, at speeds as high as 640 miles an hour.

Steve Edwards, Black & Veatch chairman and CEO, said the project would take transportation in Missouri to the next level.

“We believe our experience in next-generation transportation and large scale infrastructure development will play a key role in moving the project forward,” Edwards said.

The study, which is expected wrap up in the summer, will focus on several aspects including: funding for the project, economic impact, benefits of the hyperloop route along the I-70 pathway, as well as a project timeline.

Virgin Hyperloop One chose several other routes in the U.S. among its “winners” in September 2017, and included the St. Louis/Kansas City route among its finalists. It would likely be privately funded and operated, if the route becomes a reality.

Andrew Smith, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, said a hyperloop would be a game changer for Missouri. Smith said allowing people to move between St. Louis and Kansas City so quickly would create a mega region.

“Now you’re talking about a region of 5 million people on the workforce, which is larger than San Francisco, than Seattle, than Boston, and we become the ninth biggest economic development region in the country,” Smith said.

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi said the route would also benefit the system in potential academic ventures. The proposed route would include a stop in Columbia, Missouri.

“This project has enormous economic potential for our state and could improve collaborative efforts of our researchers with colleagues throughout the state in ways we can only imagine right now,” Choi said.

Current plans project the first leg of the first route of the hyperloop could be built in 2021.

Eli Chen and Maria Altman contributed to this report.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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