Missouri — The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the KC Tech Council, the University of Missouri System, and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia announced the formation of the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, a public-private partnership to advance building of a Hyperloop route linking Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis along the I-70 corridor.
Coalition organizers include Andrew Smith, Bill Turpin, Ryan Weber, and Thomas Blair as well as other private-sector leaders. The Coalition’s immediate term concern and focus is securing $1.5 million in private funding needed for the feasibility study.
Hyperloop One, the only company in the world to have built a full-scale Hyperloop test system, is working to determine where to build the world’s first Hyperloop route. Missouri’s Hyperloop route would allow a combined 5 million residents to access research universities, a network of world-class plant science and animal health research hubs, and growing business communities in less than 25 minutes. It would give Missouri an undeniable edge in attracting new business and talent. Building along I-70, the birthplace of the U.S. Interstate system, is uniquely attractive. Missouri proposed the I-70 route to Hyperloop One two years ago as part of MODOT’s “Road to Tomorrow” project to promote innovation along I-70.
The Hyperloop project was specifically referenced in the summary report issued by the Governor’s Innovation Task Force.
Andrew Smith, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the St. Louis Regional Chamber, said that Missouri has a clear path to becoming a global winner.
“It is clear from our conversations with Hyperloop One that they were impressed with our initial proposal. Our proposed route connects two major metropolitan areas in the same state along with a major research university, and we have the most favorable regulatory and cost environment of any proposed build site. Hyperloop One is encouraging us to take the next step with an engineering feasibility study.”
“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.”
“Governments in the U.S. and around the world are embracing the idea of building Hyperloop One systems to strengthen economic development and improve passenger mobility in their respective regions,” said Josh Giegel, co-founder and President of Engineering of Hyperloop One. “We’re excited to work with the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition in exploring the feasibility of a Hyperloop One system and bringing our new mode of transportation to the masses.”
Patrick McKenna, Director of MODOT, estimates that a feasibility study will cost between $1 million and $1.5 million.
“MODOT will provide the oversight and technical expertise to manage the RFP process for the study. We are committed to bringing this innovative mode of transportation to Missouri.” Given state budget constraints, funding for the study will have to come from the private sector.
Bill Turpin, CEO of the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia, said the first order of business for the Coalition is to raise the funds for the study. “Hyperloop One is evaluating the extent of private sector support for each proposal. They want to see a strong public-private partnership and engagement from the business community. I believe we have that in Missouri and that our businesses will be willing to step up to the plate to fund this study.”
Ryan Weber, President of the KC Tech Council, highlighted the long-term opportunities that would result from construction of a Hyperloop route along I-70. “Linking Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis in this way would strengthen collaboration across the entire state of Missouri and make us one of the most attractive destinations in the country for new businesses as well as businesses looking to relocate.”
Dr. Mun Choi, President of the University of Missouri System said, “The Hyperloop will represent a paradigm shift in our ability to travel and conduct business throughout Missouri. The University of Missouri System is very excited to partner on this initiative.”