By Claire Banor
It’s a long shot, but new high-speed system could make it happen.
Imagine ditching I-35 and traveling from Dallas to Austin in 15 minutes.
It’s a lofty dream, but a Dallas-led team of engineers, urban planners and architects is working to bring the futuristic Hyperloop transportation system to Texas.
Hyperloop One, a company based in Los Angeles, is developing new transportation technology described as “airline speeds for the price of a bus ticket.” The system uses levitating pods that travel at high speeds — as fast as 700 mph — through low-pressure tubes by propulsion from electric motors.
The Hyperloop Texas team was chosen as one of 35 semifinalist teams that participated in the Hyperloop One global challenge. More than 2,600 teams submitted proposals and routes for the new transportation system.
The proposed Texas route, which is being called the Texas Triangle, would connect 640 miles between Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, and get passengers from Dallas to Houston in just 30 minutes.
Steven Duong, a senior urban designer in AECOM’s Dallas office who is leading the Hyperloop Texas team, said Texas would be ideal for the technology because the landscape is relatively flat, traffic issues are growing just as fast as the cities, and the state has a high population of frequent commuters.
Duong said the Hyperloop system would do for transportation what broadband did for communications.
“It would provide on-demand, very high-speed transportation over long distances,” he said.
Hyperloop One will be choosing three teams out of the 35 semifinalists to work closely with and explore financing and project development. Duong said he feels confident Texas could be one of them.
Duong said the company expects to have the technology up and running by 2020 and that the first implementations will be for freight transportation. Passenger travel will follow.
While Texas has a need for more efficient passenger travel, Duong said transporting freight to and from cities would significantly improve traffic, as it would eliminate the need for cargo trucks on the highways.
And not only would the new technology address the traffic issues, but it would do so while being completely environmentally friendly and relying mostly on solar panels for energy.
“There are definite environmental benefits to this,” said Duong. “It is designed to be very low-energy.”
The technology hasn’t been completely tested, but it was announced yesterday that Hyperloop One is putting the finishing touches on its test facility. The first full test run will be completed within the next month or two.
If the technology checks out as planned and Texas is picked to be one of the leading locations, Duong said Texans could be experiencing high-speed travel in the not-so-distant future.