Local officials are studying a new transportation system that could create the fastest ground travel method in the state. Imagine riding from Dallas to Austin in 19 minutes.
A regional government body that represents the interests of dozens of cities in North Texas will announce its plan Wednesday to conduct an environmental impact study of the proposed Texas Hyperloop One project.
The study, to be conducted by the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Transportation Council, will take place over the next two to three years and is tangible evidence that the futuristic, high-speed hyperloop is being treated as a serious travel option.
Hyperloop is new technology that allows for tube travel at speeds of 500-plus mph and removes air pressure through the use of magnetic levitation.
Texas Hyperloop One could whisk riders from Fort Worth to Dallas in 8 minutes, Dallas to Austin in 19 minutes, Dallas to Houston in 46 minutes and Austin to San Antonio in 8 minutes.
The motivation for treating hyperloop as a viable transportation option is clear, according to Michael Morris, the Director of Transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
"We are at 7.5 million people (in Dallas-Fort Worth) on our way to 12 million in the next 30 years," Morris said. "I think it is an environment that welcomes new technology, new investments to handle what will be 12 million people trying to get around our region."
"A lot of people can look up and say, 'Wow this is silly,' but it’s our job to put the transporation in place that’s needed by 2045, and it would be silly not to put this technology in your consideration," Morris said.
Texas Hyperloop One is in the design phase and is one of 10 proposed hyperloop routes.
Recently Morris, along with other members of the Transportation Council, visited the full-scale test track of Virgin Hyperloop One in the Nevada Desert.
"I think we went to Nevada somewhat skeptical. We did not leave Nevada skeptical. It is an unbelievable accomplishment," Morris said about the hyperloop technology.
According to Morris, the environmental impact study could take two to three years. Beyond that it is not yet known what will happen with respect to the possibility of a hyperloop being built here.
Virgin is in the midst of building the first test track. Once an environmental impact study has been completed, DFW could become the site for the next phase of approvals necessary to make hyperloop travel possible, including tests in real-world conditions before it could be launched nationwide.
Morris is hopeful North Texas could be considered a candidate to test hyperloop, with what he envisions as an elevated track with stops in Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth.