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Tampa-Orlando hyperloop could be in Central Florida's future

Dive Brief:

  • California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) could be considering developing a hyperloop transit system through Central Florida, connecting Tampa and Orlando along the Interstate 4 corridor at maximum speeds near 700 mph, according to WFLA News Channel 8.

  • HTT officials are reportedly scheduled to present their ideas for the high-speed system to regional transportation leaders at a meeting on June 6. Voters had approved a plan to give high-speed rail right of way along I-4, but Florida Gov. Rick Scott subsequently blocked $2.4 billion in federal funds from going into a rail project. The federal money earmarked for that project went to the California High-Speed Rail Authority's now-$77 billion bullet train project instead.

  • Local leaders told WFLA that any plans for a Tampa-Orlando hyperloop are exploratory at this point.

Dive Insight:

Another Florida route – Orlando International Airport to the Port of Miami – could also be in line for a hyperloop system courtesy of Virgin Hyperloop One. Back in September, the company named the potential Orlando-Miami segment as one of 10 finalists in its Hyperloop One Global Challenge and plans to have three full-scale systems operational by 2021. The other three U.S. contenders are segments between Dallas and Houston; Cheyenne, Wyoming, Denver and Pueblo, Colorado; and Chicago, Columbus, Ohio and Pittsburgh.

Although Tesla founder Elon Musk issued the original hyperloop challenge back in 2013, encouraging researchers around the world to come up with an operable system, his latest venture, The Boring Co., has been developing another high-speed transit system. "Skates" capable of transporting vehicles, bikes and people at speeds of up to 130 mph would be loaded up and then lowered into a transit tunnel, whisking passengers to their destination.

The Boring Co. is likely building its proposal for a $1 billion to $3 billion express transit system between downtown Chicago and nearby O'Hare International Airport around the idea. The company is one of two finalists selected to come up with a plan to move commuters between the two locations in no more than 20 minutes.

The skate system will also come into play if The Boring Co. receives permission to build a network of transportation tunnels underneath Los Angeles. Currently, Musk and his team are trying to win approval for one initial test tunnel, but their plans could be hindered by local activists who object to the city council's suggestion that this exploratory phase be exempt from the usual environmental reviews.

Musk's team is nearing completion of another test tunnel near Musk's SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and he announced on Twitter that the company will be giving test rides to the public in a few months.


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