KC to St. Louis in 31 minutes? Missouri groups make a renewed push for Hyperloop

Despite news last month that Missouri had not earned inclusion in a top 10 list of possible future routes to be linked by a Hyperloop track, the state re-emerged as a possibility for a route on Tuesday.

Hyperloop One, a company that says it’s the only one to build a “full-scale Hyperloop test system,” announced along with the Missouri Department of Transportation that a public-private coalition has formed to renew consideration of a route in Missouri. The coalition aims to conduct a feasibility study of a route linking Kansas City, Columbia and St. Louis along the Interstate 70 corridor.

According to Hyperloop One, the route from KC to St. Louis would take 31 minutes to traverse — attaining a speed of 671 mph, which is about 90 mph slower than the speed of sound on a 50-degree day. (Temperature and other variables alter the speed of sound.)

Hyperloop One’s technology proposes to use electric propulsion to thrust pods through a tubular track at high speeds. The pods could have screens rather than windows with augmented-reality capabilities.

MoDOT director Patrick McKenna estimated that the feasibility study will cost as much as $1.5 million.

Given state budget constraints, MoDOT will solicit funding from the private sector, McKenna said.

“MoDOT will provide the oversight and technical expertise to manage the RFP process for the study,” he said. “We are committed to bringing this innovative mode of transportation to Missouri.”

The track was first proposed two years ago as part of a MoDOT initiative to promote innovation along I-70.

“This public-private partnership demonstrates Missouri’s commitment to building one of the first Hyperloop systems in the world,” said Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One. “We look forward to working with the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition in continuing to develop Missouri’s Hyperloop One proposal from Kansas City to St. Louis.”

The KC Tech Council is supporting the coalition. Its president, Ryan Weber, said a track would result in long-term opportunities by strengthening collaboration across the state and attracting businesses to Missouri.

Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri System, said a Hyperloop route across the state would represent a paradigm shift in Missouri travel.

“The University of Missouri System is very excited to partner on this initiative,” Choi said.

Hyperloop technology was proposed by tech billionaire Elon Musk of SpaceX. Companies have sprung up around the technology, including Hyperloop One.

Max Londberg: 816-234-4378, @MaxLondberg

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb