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Hyperloop could bring new options

Is it an amazing way to create new regionalization and improved economic development?

Or is it nothing but a pie-in-the-sky waste of money?

No one can say for sure yet, but we think the possibility of a northeast Ohio “hyperloop” — a high-speed passenger and / or cargo train — is certainly worth exploring.

More analysis is needed about the possible development of this Great Lakes Hyperloop System for the Erie / Sandusky area, and now the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, or NOACA, has partnered with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies to conduct a $1.3 million feasibility study for developing a Hyperloop corridor route from Chicago to Cleveland and Pittsburgh for America’s first multistate hyperloop system in the Great Lakes Megaregion.

Imagine, if it goes forward, the route could pass through the Youngstown-Warren region, making the Mahoning Valley a pivot point for the first multistate system in the nation.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of money for such a futuristic plan, but certainly detailed research is needed before even larger investment decisions can be made.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars already have been committed to the project. NOACA’s Board of Directors has awarded a $550,029 contract to Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS) for the Great Lakes Hyperloop Feasibility Study to evaluate the feasibility of an ultra-high-speed Hyperloop passenger and freight transport system initially linking Cleveland and Chicago.

NOACA’s portion of the study is funded through commitments from the Cleveland Foundation, ODOT, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission and NOACA.

If the massive project is approved, it would cover a Great Lakes Megaregion representing a $15 billion transportation market with tens of millions of tons of cargo and millions of passengers connecting to the cities within the region — including those here in the Mahoning Valley — every year.

Supporters of the idea say technologies like Hyperloop can take outdated infrastructures through the 21st century and even beyond with airplane speeds at ground level, safely. Passengers and cargo capsules will hover through a network of low-pressure tubes at the speed of 700 mph through propulsion and magnetic accelerators between cities and transforming travel time from hours to minutes.

The Cleveland to Chicago route is expected to be 28 minutes in travel time.

It sounds crazy, we know. But this could be the future! Imagine what this could mean for economic development, local businesses and developable land. Suddenly, the term “location, location, location” can take on even broader new meaning.

NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci said Hyperloop brings much more than just speed and efficiency. “It opens our region to the rest of the Midwest, connecting us all in a network of technology, resources, people and jobs.”

Really, can that be a bad thing?

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