Elon Musk Claims ‘Verbal’ Government Approval to Build NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC Hyperloop

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk is stealing the MagLev’s thunder today, sending out a viral series of tweets about a proposed underground East Coast “Hyperloop” train that would run through Baltimore.

The 46-year-old tech entrepreneur behind Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, among other firms, tweeted this morning that he’s received “verbal govt approval” to build a 220-mile underground rail line stretching from New York City to Washington D.C. Each stop, he said, would have “up to a dozen or more” elevators to enter and exit the station, and go from city center to city center.

The Boring Company, a tunnel-boring firm that Musk started half-jokingly while sitting in traffic this past winter, would carve out routes running beneath the surface of major city blocks and hundreds of miles down the East Coast. A hyperspeed rail line would then be installed, with “pods” moving through a vacuum-like tube utilizing magnetic levitation, according to the Hyperloop One project website.

Musk said the trip from New York to D.C. would take roughly 29 minutes.

Responding to a someone who understandably wants a Hyperloop connecting the major cities in her home state of Texas, Musk said he’ll pursue not one, but four such projects:

Recode reported earlier this month that Musk has actually already built a mini-tunnel on the SpaceX campus in Los Angeles. He’s still working on securing permits and other regulatory approval from the City of Los Angeles to build a tunnel connecting LAX to Westwood. He said via Twitter in June that talks with the city’s mayor have been “promising.”

Click here to see a sort-of nauseating view of what the rail method looks like in motion.

As for which government agency granted him “verbal” approval, that remains unclear. A White House spokesperson told Bloomberg the Trump administration has had “promising conversations to date” with Musk and his associates. The spokesperson also said the White House is “committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe[s] our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector.”

Transit experts responded critically to the announcement. Yonah Freemark, a Ph.D candidate in city planning at MIT, sarcastically noted some of the more obvious obstacles.

Musk clarified that there’s “still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval,” but said he’s “optimistic that will occur rapidly.”

It seems he might be putting the cart before the horse, considering the lack of official approval. One reporter aptly suggested he might be simply trying to win some early support for his idea.

It’s already working here in Baltimore. Mayor Catherine Pugh said in a statement that she’s eager to hear more about his idea. “If his plan becomes a reality it has tremendous potential to create new opportunities for Baltimore and transform the way we link to neighboring cities,” she said.

Musk isn’t the first guy to propose running a magnetically levitating rail line through Baltimore. In fact, the folks over at Northeast Maglev seem to be miles ahead of him, with the state having already received a $30 million federal grant to conduct an environmental impact study in Maryland. Japan, which has some Maglev trains of its own, has thrown some financial backing behind that project, with more expected if it proceeds as planned.

Ethan McLeod
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  1. I understand that this guy has pulled into hundreds of millions of gov’t money for his ideas. So, good for him, but let’s not give him our tax dollars to do this.

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