Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Takes ‘Big First Step,’ Construction Starts Next Year

Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s dream of futuristic high-speed transport comes one step closer to reality as Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced they’ve signed an agreement with a developer to build a five-mile Hyperloop line off of Interstate 5 in California. It may seem like a small step for an idea that envisions thousands of miles of space-age tubing, but CEO Dirk Ahlborn is excited.

“This is a big step,” he explained to NBC News, “It’s time to take the Hyperloop from concept and design and build the first one.”

The company signed the deal with developers in Quay Valley in central California. Construction is set to begin next year, and it will be completed in 2019. Ahlborn explained that some of the ground work is already complete.

“This is a phased process. We’ve done feasibility studies, and now we will be able test all aspects of the Hyperloop.”

There’s just one big problem with making Elon Musk’s concept come to life: money. The five mile track will cost approximately $100 million.

The company plans to get the necessary funds in an IPO, scheduled for sometime later this year.

The question is: will people invest in such a futuristic project?

According to Techcrunch, the five-mile Hyperloop will serve as a kind of monorail for the solar-powered Quay Valley, a planned city that will be able to hold 150,000 residents. Unfortunately, Quay Valley’s future seems murky. The project was initially put on hold in 2008 because of the recession. It faced further delays due to water rights issues.

The project was recently renewed. Still, if more litigation holds up the town, the Hyperloop will be deprived of its first income source.

Of course, the Hyperloop concept is meant to be much more than just a local transportation system.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Elon Musk came up with the concept for the Hyperloop system, although he hasn’t put any resources behind its construction. The idea is to use magnets to levitate and move pods in a sealed tube. Inside, the tube would be a vacuum, getting rid of all the energy loss from air friction. Theoretically, the Hyperloop could hit speeds of 800 miles per hour, and for considerably less than California’s current high-speed rail project.

Elon Musk has received a lot of criticism for the project, some saying it’s far too ambitious. The Quay Valley project might put some of those objections to rest.

So, how could a five mile Hyperloop system for local transit possibly hit 800 miles per hour without causing some sort of safety hazard?

The answer is, Musk’s dream will have to be compromised slightly to accommodate the needs of the community. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies estimates that their system will be able to hit speeds of 200 miles per hour — still impressive.

It’s not clear if Elon Musk will participate in the project.

[Image Credit: Getty Images]