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Hyperloop technology: Regional Transportation Council looking at possible projects

The North Texas Regional Transportation Council (RTC) will explore hyperloop technology for two transportation Initiatives – one linking Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth and the other what has long been known as the Texas T-bone linking Fort Worth to Waco, Temple-Killeen, Austin, San Antonio and Laredo roughly along the Interstate 35 path.

Hyperloop technology, already being tested, moves passenger carrying vehicles through a tube either below or above ground, much as a vacuum tube carries checks and money back and forth at a drive-through bank deposit.

The concept was presented at the Feb. 16 Ninth Annual Northeast Tarrant Transportation


Tarrant County Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Fickes said at the February event that the “idea of traveling at breakneck speeds through a tube conjures up visions of H.G. Wells and sci-fi movies from the 1950s.”

A delegation from the RTC visited Virgin Hyperloop One’s full-scale test track in the Nevada Desert recently to see the technology first hand.

“The RTC is all about bringing innovation to the transportation system in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and hyperloop would be an exciting technology to add,” Fickes, chair of the Regional Transportation Council, said in a news release. “I think the future’s very bright for hyperloop and its use in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.”

Using hyperloop technology, the trip between Dallas and Fort Worth could take as little as six minutes.

Nathan Roth, assistant general counsel for Virgin Hyperloop One, said at the transportation summit that travel times between Fort Worth and Austin could take as little as 25 minutes, and Austin to San Antonio 11 minutes.

An offshoot of that route – the T-bone part – between San Antonio and Houston could take 25 minutes. San Antonio to Laredo would take around 20 minutes.

The RTC will issue a Request for Proposals for a consultant team to complete the Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a high-speed corridor connecting Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth, the news release said.

“The Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Transportation Council has proven itself as forward-thinking agency that wants to give its region a competitive edge by leveraging next-generation technology,” Rob Lloyd, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, said in the announcement. “Virgin Hyperloop One is excited to pursue these projects, which would transform what are now separate metropolitan areas into one economic megaregion connected by high speed transport.”

In addition, the announcement said the RTC has provided funding and has obtained additional funding commitments to undertake a conceptual feasibility study of high-speed technology including hyperloop to connect Fort Worth, Waco, Temple-Killeen, Austin, San Antonio and Laredo.

This corridor will be requested to move into a more detailed Tier 2 EIS following the feasibility study.

“As our region grows from 7.2 million people now up to 11.2 million by 2045, we are planning a transportation system that offers choices to our residents. Adding an option like hyperloop to the existing system of roadways, rail transit, bicycle/pedestrian facilities and high-speed rail to Houston would expand the system in an exciting way,” Michael Morris, P.E., Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said in the announcement. “Connecting other regions in Texas through hyperloop would open up economic opportunities throughout the state.”

Texas Central Partners, a self-described investor-funded company, is working on a high-speed railing between Dallas and Houston following roughly the Interstate 45 corridor.

A concept for the Texas T-bone was presented at the transportation summit in 2011, as a concept of the Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corp. (THSRTC), formed in 2002 after earlier attempts to build high-speed rail in Texas collapsed.

AECOM, a company based in Dallas but with offices in Fort Worth and worldwide, proposed the new T-bone concept for a competition called Global Challenge that Virgin Hyperloop One staged to seek worldwide ideas for a hyperloop project.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group invested heavily enough in startup Hyperloop One in October that the company became Virgin Hyperloop One.

The company has built a full-scale system in the Nevada desert, demonstrating speeds of up to 240 miles per hour in the 500-meter prototype.

“My understanding from the engineers is that with that system we have built out there, if we had a longer track, we’d get up to 670 miles per hour,” Roth said at the February transportation summit.

Hyperloop technology allows vehicles to travel at very high speeds with minimal aerodynamic resistance by operating in a low-pressure environment using magnetic levitation technology.

In essence, turning the vehicle into an electric motor that moves in an elongated linear pattern instead of a tight rotation.

Includes information from Business Press archives.

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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