For better or worse, The Boring Company could have its high-powered digging machines up and running in Maryland by next month.
Citing a state utility permit, the Capital News Service reports that Elon Musk’s tunnel-boring firm can begin digging two D.C.-Baltimore tunnels as early as January 2018. The paperwork also reportedly lists the planned Baltimore terminus for the rail line: “within 0.25 miles of intersection of W. Pratt and S. Paca” streets, or a block north of Camden yards, near Pickles Pub.
A Boring Company spokesman hasn’t responded to a request to confirm details or share additional information about the route.
For months, the privately funded East Coast Hyperloop was merely an idea spouted by Musk via Twitter in July. Then, in October, Gov. Larry Hogan announced his support for the project, appearing with other public officials at a potential dig site in Anne Arundel County with a sign for The Boring Company slapped up on a chain-link fence. The state awarded the company a conditional utility permit to dig beneath a state-owned stretch of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Hogan’s support was a notable shift away from his 2015 endorsement of the Maglev train, a separate D.C.-Baltimore high-speed proposal that’s been subject to a federally directed, $28 million environmental impact study process for years. Hogan backed that idea after returning from Japan, where the train is up and running and has proven to work.
According to the Capital News Service’s report, the tunnels from Baltimore wouldn’t get very far. The other terminus would be “immediately north of MD 175,” a 17-mile road running from Millersville to Columbia that intersects with the B-W Parkway around Hanover.
Maryland owns abut 12 miles of the B-W Parkway, and has given The Boring Company the green light to underneath that section. The other 20 or so miles are federal property, which means Musk will need to do some negotiating (and, likely, wait years for government approval) in Washington if he wishes to make his dream a reality.
Another key new detail: CNS obtained an email exchange between Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn and one of Musk’s employees that suggests the tunnels will hold an electric-skate based system. This system would move passengers in pods at around 150 mph, according to technology website Elektrek. The Hyperloop works differently, utilizing a vacuum-like tube that shoots pods at up to 700 mph.
With the skate-based system, passengers would be able to travel at roughly the top speed of an Amtrak Acela train, which already runs from D.C. to Baltimore.
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