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Hyperloop Test Track Headed To West Virginia, But Missouri Could Land High-Speed Route

A feasibility study on the proposed hyperloop between St. Louis and Kansas City found that each ride would be cheaper than the cost of gas.
Virgin Hyperloop One
Virgin Hyperloop
Virgin Hyperloop will build its new testing center in West Virginia. But Missouri lawmakers who tried to attract the facility say the testing center could be the first step in developing a track in Missouri.

Missouri will not be home to a new center that tests high-speed hyperloop technology.

Virgin Hyperloop announced Thursday that West Virginia will be the site for its new Hyperloop Certification Center, which will test the technology to be used in systems across the country. Hyperloop trams could reach speeds greater than 600 mph.

The $500 million West Virginia project could be the precursor to commercial hyperloop routes, including one in Missouri. Last year, Missouri legislators tried to persuade the company to locate the center in the state.

“We came really close on this, and I think that really bodes well for what’s our next project,” said Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, who helped lead the project. “What is the next step that we can take that will move us forward innovatively into sort of a new generation of technology?”

A report by Haahr and other Missouri lawmakers highlighted the benefits of a potential hyperloop line between St. Louis and Kansas City. The project could transport travelers between the state’s two largest cities in about 30 minutes.

The report also described the economic opportunities the hyperloop project could bring to the state, including jobs and more economic growth.

In May, the Legislature passed a bill authorizing the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to enter a public-private partnership to help build a hyperloop track. The system between St. Louis and Kansas City is estimated to cost $7.3 billion to $10.4 billion.

“Down the road if they want to expand both to D.C. but also expanding west, Missouri is going to be right at the tip of that spear when it comes to our chance to engage with them and build projects,” Haahr said.

Virgin Hyperloop officials said the company is still considering sites across the country for commercial use.

“It’s clear that we need a 21st-century solution that will propel us forward, allowing us to not just rebuild, but actually evolve,” Virgin Hyperloop CEO Jay Walder said in a press release. “Hyperloop is that solution, and we look forward to working with our partners across the country – in places like West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Washington, and North Carolina – to connect the country from coast to coast.”

The West Virginia project expects to receive safety certification by 2025. Commercial operations are expected to begin in 2030.

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.