The Wall Street Journal recently reported on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s claim to have received approval to build a high-speed tunnel-based transportation system along the East Coast. This so-called “Hyperloop” would be capable of transporting people from New York to Washington D.C. in just 29 minutes, a dramatic improvement over Amtrak’s Acela Express train, which currently travels a similar route in roughly three hours. According to the article, Musk’s tunneling venture, aptly named The Boring Company, expects remaining regulatory approvals to be received by the end of the year.
This latest headline highlights a trend in current thinking about the future of public transportation. Conceptually similar projects have been surfacing the past couple years. Another Hyperloop project in the works by Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles-based company, would link Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago and allow for travel between Pittsburgh and Columbus in under 15 minutes, with an extension to Chicago adding about a half-hour to the trip.
A team at Carnegie Mellon University is also digging into Hyperloop technology, teasing the possibility of traveling from Downtown Pittsburgh to Cranberry or Washington, PA within a couple of minutes via a network of depressurized tubes. They envision a network of these tubes spanning the country, enabling cross-country travel at a fraction of the time and cost of airline flights.
On a much smaller scale, other rapid travel projects are under way locally. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in May that the Port Authority of Allegheny County plans to build a bus rapid transit system connecting Downtown Pittsburgh, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Highland Park and Wilkinsburg. This project is currently estimated to cost $233 million, in a combination of federal, state and local funds.
Infrastructure projects such as these certainly require significant capital investment. While Questions Remain on the Trump Administration’s Infrastructure Plans, these projects will improve the state of transportation both locally and nationally, and they present tremendous opportunity for the transportation and construction industries.
If you're interested in reading more articles, please visit the Our Thoughts On...blog.