In the coming weeks, Hyperloop One—a startup that’s furthest along in developing the futuristic transportation network—will begin a feasibility study with the Colorado Department of Transportation to determine what’s needed to actually build the system. One of the study’s aims is to develop a business case for a 360-mile route between Colorado and Wyoming that’ll cost an estimated $24 billion to construct, according to documents obtained by Jalopnik through a public records request.
Cost, of course, is a key issue in discussions about the feasibility of building a hyperloop system. The documents offer interesting insight into what’s being done to advance the efforts of a company leading the way to build the incredibly ambitious, transit system of the future that still may never come alive.
Weeks before Hyperloop One announced the finalists for a long-running contest to find ideal places to build the futuristic system’s first routes, the company had nailed down plans to conduct a feasibility study with the Colorado Department of Transportation on a proposed route through the Rocky Mountains, according to documents obtained by Jalopnik. The documents—ranging from communications between CDOT and Hyperloop One, as well as preliminary analyses of the proposed project—also spell out the extensive work that’ll happen to determine what’s needed to actually build the system.
In a letter sent Aug. 17 to the department’s director, Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd said Colorado’s proposed system was “among the best we reviewed from submissions around the world to the Hyperloop One Global Challenge.”
“Linking the metropolitan areas of the Front Range with ultra-high speed passenger and freight transport holds great promise for residents and businesses of Colorado, and we are excited to explore the potential of this market further with you and CDOT,” Lloyd wrote in the letter.
The Colorado proposal is indeed impressive—a 360-mile system that connects the cities of Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming, with stops along the way—and carries an estimated total price tag of $24 billion. The estimate takes into consideration land acquisition, along with capital costs for stations and more.
The proposal’s just an early iteration of a concept, though—and Hyperloop One knows it, which is why it’s going to conduct the feasibility study with CDOT and AECOM, an infrastructure firm that helped put together the pitch.
The study will examine “transportation demand, economic benefits, proposed routes and potential strategies, regulatory environments and alignment with overall CDOT high-speed travel, rail and freight plans,” Hyperloop One said last week.
What the feasibility study’s going to cover is laid out in a brief three-page Proposed Scope of Work document.
Over a six month period, the document says, the study will cover everything from where stations should be placed to development of a business strategy.
“Each of the specific steps of the work will build on each other over the duration of the study,” the document says. “We initially anticipate each step would take approximately 1.5-months to complete, so an overall schedule of 6-months is estimated.”
Along the way, the four phases have “checkpoints” to “evaluate if the necessary information that is needed to move to the next step in the process has been achieved and can realistically proceed to the next step,” it goes on.
The document calls for a two-day working session with Hyperloop One, AECOM and CDOT to “gain clarity on the core capabilities and focused application of the technology within the Rocky Mounty Hyperloop context.”
Route planning would follow, with a preliminary analysis on some of the biggest issues that could setback a hyperloop system from coming to fruition.
You can check out the Colorado proposal and scope of work for the feasibility study below. The tests this year from Hyperloop One have been cool to watch, but, the documents from Colorado show we’re still ways off from seeing how feasible the hyper-fast pneumatic tube system is.