KC to St. Louis in 23 minutes: A new possibility

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Whether you’re driving, flying or taking a train ride, it could take a few hours to get from Kansas City to St. Louis. But what if you could get there in 23 minutes?

Well, that could be a new possibility.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is one of 11 semifinalists to have a new transportation system called the Hyperloop.

“It's a game changer," MoDOT Engineer Tom Blair said. "Basically we're connecting our two largest cities in our state in what most of us spend in a commute to work everyday, now a commute across our state connects us in so many different ways.”

According to the company Hyperloop One, the hyperloop will “use a custom electric motor to accelerate and decelerate a levitated pod through a low pressure tube. The vehicle will glide silently for miles with no turbulence."

“Everyday it seems like we are in the future,” Kansas City resident Patrick Marriott said. “You know we've got smart phones, we've got smart TVs and now we've got this technology that could get us from KC to St. Louis, which is better than most people's commutes from Overland Park or Olathe, and you're making it all the way to St. Louis.”

“I have a lot of relatives that come from St. Louis to Kansas City, and Kansas City to St. Louis,” Kansas City resident Marlantheis Seahorn said. “I think as far as that aspect of it, not just business, but family, I think it opens up a lot of possibilities.”

“What is it really going to cost the taxpayers,” Kansas City resident Yatta Baley asked. “It sounds good, but at the end of the day, I know it's a catch 22.”

Blair said the vision is MoDOT would not put tax dollars into building and operating the Hyperloop system.

“We don't think that's going to work because we're only receiving enough tax money to pay for the roads that Missourians own today,” Blair said. “We envision here, if we could work this out, we could have a true innovative public, private partnership. So this would largely be paid for and operated for privately.”

MoDOT stated the I-70 corridor would be the ideal location for this new system.

“We chose I-70 corridor as our centerpiece for our application for this because it's the original interstate. It's the oldest interstate in the country,” Blair said. “It is centrally located and it needs to be rebuilt for many different reasons, the least of which is the condition of this interstate corridor. With all that being said, do we really just want to rebuild it to old design standards or do we want to actually create a corridor, a transportation corridor, that meets expectations of the 21st century?”

Blair said once it’s known whether Hyperloop Missouri is a finalist, more questions about this new transportation system will be answered.

“We're going to need help from a lot of state agencies and transportation agencies that are out there. Private and public agencies,” Blair said. “We don't exactly know what the next steps are if we are a finalist. All we know is that we expect to get answers from the many questions that we have and many of the citizens would have, what would they pay for and all that stuff.”

Finalists will be announced sometime in June.

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Rae Daniel can be reached at Rae.Daniel@KSHB.com.

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