A planned dig site in Halethorpe. Photo via Gov. Larry Hogan/Facebook

Maryland is now one of two East Coast government agencies that’s willing to let Elon Musk dig beneath the earth in hopes of building a vacuum-like, tube-based transportation system.

The Washington Post reports the Boring Company, Musk’s tunnel-digging firm, “has received an early, and vague, building permit from the D.C. government that will allow some preparatory and excavation work” at what’s presently a vacant parking lot next to a McDonald’s in Northeast D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood.

The permit was reportedly issued Nov. 29. The site could become a station for the dreamt-up East Coast Hyperloop tunnel network, a Boring Company spokesman told The Post. Other details remain scant.

That’s largely because the Hyperloop remains a distant idea. Even though Musk once tweeted that he had “verbal govt approval” to build a mode of transport moving 700 mph beneath the ground from D.C. to New York, and that the Jared Kushner-led White House Office of American Innovation supports the vision, real regulatory approval remains elusive.

And while the Hogan administration has welcomed the company to a dig site in Halethorpe, putting up a sign and giving The Boring Company permission to dig beneath the state’s 10 miles of the 32.5-mile (and otherwise federally owned) Baltimore-Washington Parkway, no digging has commenced.

In my own report for DCist on the advent of high-speed Baltimore-to-D.C. transit options, one regional planning professor at Georgetown University mentioned that “there’s still a number of technical feasibility issues that have not been proven to work,” and called the Hyperloop “really an idea at this point and less of a real proposal.”

Speaking with The Post, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s spokesman said, “We’re just beginning, in the mayor’s office, our conversation to get an understanding of what the general vision is for Hyperloop.”

While the Hyperloop has the hype, the Japanese-inspired Maglev train is further along in terms of regulatory hurdles. Despite community opposition, Northeast Maglev, the firm behind the project, has entered the final stretch of a multi-year environmental impact study of the project with federal and state agencies.

The company recently unveiled two final route options for the train, both running parallel to the B-W Parkway. The company’s CEO, Wayne Rogers, has said construction could begin as early as 2020.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...