In June 2017, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to make what seemed like a huge announcement. His Boring Company had received “verbal government approval” for “an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop,” he wrote.
The hyperloop, he promised, would one day transport travelers between New York and the nation’s capital in just under 30 minutes. But when it comes to large-scale infrastructure projects, “verbal government approval” and “government approval” are very different things. Now Musk and the Boring Company are working through the boring part: the long and paperwork-intensive process of building a scaled-down version of their vision, called the Loop.
If completed, the privately funded Loop would carry passengers between downtown Baltimore and Washington through twin 35-mile tunnels 30 to 90 feet below the surface. Battery-powered “autonomous electric vehicles,” or AEVs, would shoot passengers at speeds up to 150 mph, completing the trip in approximately 15 minutes. Seventy ventilation shafts, housed in nondescript brown huts built on the surface of the route, would help passengers breathe—and serve as emergency exits. Fares would be “comparable to public transportation,” the company writes.
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