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Hyperloop One officials consider locales for working track

Updated April 6, 2017 - 4:25 pm

Though Hyperloop One still has this summer pegged for a public test of its completed test track near North Las Vegas, track officials won’t guarantee the valley will house the world’s first working hyperloop track for freight delivery.

An experimental mode of transportation said to send cargo from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in about 30 minutes, hyperloop could first become a reality elsewhere in the nation or the world.

This week, representatives from the Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One heard presentations for 11 proposed North American routes while in Washington, D.C. A team from Nevada, made up of state and local officials, presented Wednesday.

“We want to create a Silicon Valley for hyperloop,” company Senior Vice President of Field Operations and Marketing Nick Earle said. “The stars are aligning.”

Holding the presentations and a panel on the future of transportation while in the capital gave representatives from Hyperloop One time to speak with politicians on the regulations that will come for hyperloop, Earle said.

The company wants to avoid working within the regulations already in place for traditional freight movers like trains, he said. That goal bears comparison to other companies that have challenged traditional transportation services, like Uber, which faced battles in cities and whole nations for avoiding the license requirements meant for taxis.

Hyperloop One representatives also asked about the state of President Donald Trump’s proposal for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, Earle said.

In March, Trump discussed infrastructure with the likes of Elon Musk, the head of car-maker Tesla who authored a white paper on hyperloop travel that inspired Hyperloop One, as well as Tyler Duvall, a partner at consulting firm McKinsey & Co. who spoke at the Hyperloop One event in D.C.

Proposed Nevada route

The contest over which routes Hyperloop One will work on first started in May and has no set end date yet, said Tina Quigley, Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada general manager.

The Nevada team, made of state and local officials, proposed a 454-mile route from Apex Industrial Park near North Las Vegas, where the Hyperloop One test track is housed, to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center that houses operations from companies like Tesla and Wal-Mart.

Among Nevada’s U.S. competitors, the shortest proposed route is 64 miles in the Boston area and 1,152 miles from Wyoming to Houston.

The team tried to sell itself based in part on expedited permitting for the Hyperloop One’s propulsion system test in May.

Easements, permitting and approvals took under six months, according to the Nevada group’s presentation. The city of North Las Vegas finished its role in under 10 days.

“We are bullish that Nevada can be a place to get things done,” Quigley said.

From that route, Hyperloop One can also branch into places like Oakland, Calif., and Los Angeles. Nevada’s regulations are easier to navigate than California’s, Quigley said, giving Hyperloop One and easier place to start should the company choose the Silver State.

Hyperloop would cut the nearly hourlong flight from Reno to Las Vegas to 42 minutes, according to the presentation. Travel by train takes about 10 hours between the two areas.

Officials also touted its role in emerging technology in Nevada, such as autonomous trucks. A Reno-Las Vegas route would relieve congestion on Interstates 15 and 5. The presentation said Las Vegas commuters lose $984 a year on average to traffic congestion.

Hyperloop would increase freight flows that start or end in Nevada to 191 million tons worth $305 billion by 2045, according to the presentation. That would mean a 45 percent increase in weight and 85 percent increase in value.

Earle said that hyperloop removing trucks off the roads will become reality. This will eliminate driver jobs, but the thousands of jobs created to run hyperloop and created for the extra industries hyperloop helps will make up for the loss.

Hyperloop One plans a test of the track built in Apex before the end of June.

Contact Wade Tyler Millward at wmillward@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602. Follow @wademillward on Twitter.

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