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Houston hyperlooping

How soon can this be built?

A Texas plan using the Hyperloop concept envisioned by Tesla founder Elon Musk is one of 35 proposals from around the globe competing this week in Washington for bragging rights as the best initial project for the technology. Hyperloop One, the company currently testing the idea, sponsored the contest.

“From a planning perspective and from a regulatory perspective Texas is a good first step for Hyperloop,” said Steven Duong, the team leader, based in Dallas, for Hyperloop Texas. “Population is a big part of it, but not just population, but population growth. So is the climate in Texas for development.”

[…]

Though winning the contest guarantees nothing, there is benefit to putting Texas high on the map – if only for U.S. bragging rights. A good idea that generates investment, he said, might be the first one completed. In some ways Texas is ahead of proposals in places like the West Coast where interest is high, but so are the regulatory hurdles.

“There are states and areas with a progressive reputation out there … but from our standpoint, this is the place to do it,” Duong said.

The proposal, a feasibility study, is a very early look at possibilities and includes no cost projections or analysis of site-specific needs. While many Hyperloop projects focus on buried tubes and include tunneling into the ground, the Texas pitch envisions above-ground enclosed tubes, possibly with solar panels on top that would power the system, making it energy-efficient to the point of burning no fossil fuels.

See here for past hyperloop blogging. Elon Musk has been talking about building a “test track” for hyperloops in Texas for over two years now, so I hope this contest indicates that we are getting closer to something actually getting built. I’m not getting any younger, I want the future to get here already. Hyperloop One, the company sponsoring the contest, says it hopes to announce finalists by May. I can’t wait.

Deep thoughts:

If a Hyperloop happens in Texas, however, it could bring profound change. Already, the Houston region is stretched to the point where sense of place can be tough to define. Are Sugar Land residents Houstonians? What does it mean to live in a region of many cities?

A Hyperloop that makes drinks in Austin and dinner in Houston possible stretches that to even farther limits, Duong said.

“If you could travel between all these different cities, it kind of devalues what it means to put your roots down in a community,” he said. “That’s something we think about, talk about, a lot.”

I don’t know that I agree with that. I think where you actually live and where you do things like go to church and send your kids to school will still strongly determine what people think of as their community. I admit that a world in which you can easily be in Houston, Austin, and Dallas all in the same day will be different and may well cause some definitions of neighborhood and community to change and possibly expand. But I think that at some fundamental level we will still be rooted to the things we are rooted to now. Ask me again after this thing gets built. The Dallas Observer, the DMN, and Swamplot have more.

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4 Comments

  1. voter_worker says:

    Begley’s article is essentially a puff piece channeling the hype of hyperloop supporters with nary a mention of technical and design issues that could possibly be problematic, such as thermal expansion of the tubes. He also relies on the naïve expectation that public rights of way will be made available for the bulk of this network, thereby avoiding mention of the private land acquisition issue plaguing Texas Central. Perhaps, as suggested, all the gnarly problems will be worked out in other countries. That will still leave the Lege with its faux concern about the financial viability of the project, which they are now using as cover for the poison pill bills aimed at Texas Central.

  2. Tory says:

    If the tubes are elevated on pylons there will be a lot less opposition than Texas Central, since it won’t create an impenetrable wall across peoples’ land.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Don’t we already have a series of tubes for high speed traffic? They’re filled with cats, and it’s the internet.

  4. Joshua ben bullard says:

    I am soooo convinced that ” begley” is in the money pockets of lobbyists, I swear his thinking on transportation is paid off,and I mean serious money this guy gets.I feel like I am in an old twilight zone episode when we talk about why taxi medallions should be abolished, which of course ,he opposes $$$$$$$$