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Haahr meets Virgin Hyperloop CEO in Springfield

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Springfield served as the backdrop Friday for a conversation between Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, and Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder.

Haahr, Rep. Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, Walder and other officials with Virgin Hyperloop met to discuss a proposed hyperloop project that would connect Kansas City and St. Louis. The meeting was held at Springfield-Branson National Airport to accommodate Haahr’s schedule, he said.

“There’s 10 states that have expressed interest or are competing to be the next stop for the hyperloop,” Haahr said. “What they’re looking for, essentially, is a state that has all the things that would make it successful.”

Missouri, he said, has two large metropolitan areas bordering other states, flat topography and the University of Missouri at the center of the proposed hyperloop in Columbia. Haahr is working to position Missouri ahead of competing states, such as Colorado, Ohio and Texas, to contract with Virgin Hyperloop.

“Our goal is to have the first full-length track in the United States,” he said.

Last year, Haahr said he and Fitzwater were the first elected officials to visit Virgin Hyperloop’s test track in the Mojave Desert.

“They’ve reached capacity at the test track,” he said. “Now, they want to build a larger and longer one.”

That’s where Missouri may come into play.

Virgin Hyperloop’s next steps call for a 7- to 10-mile test track in one of the 10 states under consideration. The ultimate goal is for the company to build its first full-scale hyperloop.

In Missouri, estimates put the cost at $7 billion-$10 billion for the hyperloop that would run upwards of 600 mph and transport riders between Kansas City and St. Louis in 20 minutes.

Haahr earlier this year created the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Hyperloop, led by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe. It’s scheduled to report back to Haahr in September with recommendations.

“This is probably going to be a fairly large public-private partnership,” Haahr said, noting the use of opportunity zones, federal, state and local resources, private investment and other funding sources likely would be utilized.

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