Elon Musk’s The Boring Company wants to build a Hyperloop subway line that would connect the District of Columbia with Baltimore.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) has granted tentative approval for the line, The Baltimore Sun reported. It is unclear exactly what Hogan gave permission for, the proposed line would run under the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (I-295 and Maryland Route 295) Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze noted.
The Hogan administration issued a conditional utility permit that would let Musk dig a 10.3-mile (16.58 kilometer) tunnel underneath the Baltimore Washington Parkway between downtown Baltimore and Washington DC, The Sun reported. The Boring Company has no known-permission to dig on federal land or in the District of Columbia.
Also unclear is exactly what The Boring Company plans to build. It has no tunneling machines and no Hyperloop equipment. There is a website with some impressive computer-generated imagery for the organization – but no sign of the machinery needed to dig such a massive tunnel.
The Loop will connect Washington and Baltimore
The website features a map showing the route of the 35-mile (56.327 kilometers) subway between South Paca Street in Baltimore and New York Avenue in Downtown Washington, DC.
The website calls the project the “Loop;” a homage to a famous elevated rail line in Downtown Chicago. The Loop would carry passengers between the two cities at speeds of 125 to 150 miles (201.17 to 241.4 kilometers an hour) an hour on “enormous electric skates.”
The long-term plan is for the Loop to connect Washington DC and New York City. That would involve tunnels under Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and part of Delaware. Logically the line would be extended to Richmond, Virginia, Hartford, and New Haven, Connecticut, Providence, Rhode, Island, and Boston.
The Boring Company has no Hyperloop
The Loop Project is a questionable one because Musk’s companies have no Hyperloop vehicles. There is a Hyperloop Test track at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California that has been used for competitions designed to test Hyperloop vehicles created by teams from universities.
That means Musk does have a highly advanced and sophisticated smart tube for Hyperloop but little else. The only working full-scale Hyperloop test track and vehicles are those owned by Virgin Hyperloop One in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
Other vehicles and tracks are under construction by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) in Toulouse France, and Hardt Global Mobility in Delft, Netherlands. A strong possibility is that Musk will buy Hyperloop vehicles from one of those companies for use in his subway.
The viability of the project is definitely questionable because nobody knows if a Hyperloop would work underground. A great deal of testing would need to be done to see if the project is viable.
Once again Musk has sold the media on a purely theoretical project as the next big thing. There is only one reason to pay attention to the Loop, Musk’s track record for turning seemingly ridiculous projects such as Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA), SpaceX, and SolarCity into reality.
Even then it will take 20 years and require action by Congress to make the Loop a reality. SpaceX took over 10 years to launch a rocket, and Tesla took almost a decade to bring an electric car into mass production. Nobody should plan to take a ride on the Loop anytime soon, but it is a fascinating project to watch. If anybody can make the Loop a reality it is Elon Musk.