Is a new form of efficient and sustainable travel coming to Chicago?
For some time now there have been whispers and speculation of a Great Lakes Hyperloop project materializing. It would be a first-of-its-kind form of futuristic travel that would link cities of the midwest to one another in a matter of minutes. But now it seems like more than speculation. This time last year Executive Director of Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) Grace Gallucci added fuel to the flames when she stated that the project “is closer than just a pipe dream” and plans involving the Great Lakes would make it “the first great Hyperloop route in the U.S.”
The words came after NOACA put pen to paper in an official agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation that supported a hyperloop route in the Great Lakes megaregion. As a critical corridor of commerce, the Great Lakes area represents $15 billion to the transportation market and thus a prime location for potential transportation improvements.
A feasibility study declared that the project aims to connect Chicago, Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh with journeys of over 700 mph propelling 30 to 40 passengers from A to B with unprecedented efficiency. The study even looked at the potential of building a hyperloop tunnel beneath Lakes Erie and Michigan. According to NBC12 at a top speed of 760mph Chicagoans would be able to travel to Cleveland in 28 minutes flat and a journey from Cleveland to the Steel City would then take just 9 minutes.
While information is hard to come by, and many sources seem tight-lipped about ongoing progress bit by bit it is looking like a legitimate hyperloop plan is forming. Tests are reportedly being continuously carried out at a Hyperloop Transportation Technologies’ test track in Toulouse, France with a manned drive planned for this year.
Virgin’s Hyperloop website and Instagram account have also been offering up gradual weekly updates on progress. Early October 2020 a post revealed that West Virginia had been selected as the location for the new Hyperloop Certification Center and shortly afterward a video boasted of “advancements at the Hyperloop Certification Center will pave the way for commercial hyperloop projects connecting coast to coast.”
There may be nothing concrete in the near future yet but Chicagoans who find themselves regularly in transit can look forward to traveling more than 10x faster than traditional rail, 3x faster than high-speed rail, and at airplane-like speeds without the risks, waits, and delays.
Is this the future?