CO Hyperloop Reality

HyperLoop Transportation Technology Map

 

Yes, they Colorado Hyperloop will happen*! A flurry of news articles have been published today on the press release of Dirk Ahlborn’s Hyperloop Transportation Technologies on the JumpStart Funds website. Key points from the Wired article:

*Maybe!

High-Speed Rail Needs A Hyperloop and Less Baggage in America

 

A map of the USA showing a hypothetical high speed rail lines across the continent
Artist and activist Alfred Twu’s image.

 

High-speed rail has been in the news in that its not working. The New York Times states:

High-speed rail was supposed to be President Obama’s signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China.

Fairly obvious, but we all know why high speed transport will eventually happen:

 Andy Kunz, executive director of the U.S. High-Speed Rail Association, thinks the United States will eventually have a high-speed rail system that connects the country. “It’s going to take some years after gas prices rise and highways fill up with traffic,” he said. “It’s going to happen because we won’t have a choice.”

The only thing lacking right now is American political will. But The Denver Post picks up with a press pool report from Senator Bennet:

Local and state officials Monday touted the importance of two huge transportation projects as keys to congestion relief and economic growth in Colorado.

But while the FasTracks mass-transit plan in the Denver metro area and the Twin Tunnels expansion in Idaho Springs are rolling along, those and others like it could be stymied by federal lawmakers who can’t agree on a long-term funding package for roads, said U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado.

“It’s making me absolutely crazy,” Bennet said Monday. “There is this concern about the federal budget, but because of these temporary extensions, there is an amazing amount of money being lost that could be spent on infrastructure.”

Seems like everyone is touting the relief that Rail/Hyperloop will bring. But don’t forget Buses!

But when it does happen will we have the necessary know how to build it? According to a NPR article on the Construction Industry Missing Key Tool: Skilled Workers, NPR explains:

It’s a problem of supply and demand: There is a massive construction boom right now but construction workers are few and far between.

Largely fueled by the energy industry, tens of billions of dollars of development is in the works along the Gulf Coast and in the Midwest.

The Associated Builders and Contractors estimates the construction industry is facing a shortage of almost 2 million skilled workers by the end of the decade.

The hyperloop can be different. Automation and robotics can be designed to install prefabricated modular units of the hyperloop.

According to Melonee Wise, the manual laborer of the future has only one arm and stands just three feet, two inches tall. Such are the vital statistics of UBR1, a $35,000 mobile robot unveiled today by Wise’s startup company Unbounded Robotics. Though robots have long been a part of manufacturing, they have traditionally worked in isolation. But in recent years, thanks to advances in hardware and software, new kinds of robot have begun to appear among human workers in factories and warehouses. 

  Lets end with a quote and substitute the Mars stuff for a hyperloop:  

Denver Boulder Colorado Hyperloop

What is happening with the Denver – Boulder Turnpike of U.S. 36? Concern of local communities pitted against companies based across the globe are putting public-private partnerships in scrutiny.

What we do know is that the infrastructure (highway upgrades, bike paths, bus and proposed light rail)  that is between Boulder and Denver makes for a somewhat uncertain commute time. Weather, accidents, and sheer volume are all factors in this as well.

The first line of the hyperloop should be between Boulder and Denver. As a friend said of the route, “Not too long, plenty of room.”

We can look back to the history of Colorado to see how we could make this happen. The Colorado and Clear Creek Railroad Company was founded by a bunch of entrepreneurs.  They made the Colorado Central Railroad as the first rail line up connecting historic Colorado mining communities such as Black Hawk, Central City, and Idaho Springs.

Colorado Central Railroad Map
Colorado Central Railroad via gilpintram.com

 

The decline of the Colorado Central Railroad were due to financial problems and then it was slowly bought out by Union Pacific, which too had financial problems.

Just as the purpose of the Gilpin Tram was to bring the ore down from the mills, the Colorado Centrals primary purpose was to bring the refined gold out of the mountains.   But there was a more long term purpose as well.   If a transcontinental route could be developed up Clear Creek, then Golden would be the commerce center for all of the Colorado Rockies. 

Luckily, future transit projects will not be based on the  mining industry. Instead, the population density between Boulder and Denver will ensure lots of use of the Hyperloop.

arcgis Population Density Map
arcgis Population Density Map

If a Fort Collins to Colorado Springs hyperloop could be developed up though Boulder, Denver would be the commercial if not geographic center. The benefits of removing cars from the Boulder-Denver corridor will give us cleaner air and less stress.  But the partnerships that create a Colorado Hyperloop Company will need to be as transparent (via local, state, and federal audits) as the crisp mountain air.

Colorado Hyperloop and the Denver Station

Denver will be critical in a front range hyperloop. It has the highest population, the busiest airport, and  possibly the most complex urban planning and laws. The precise location for a hyperloop in the city is of extreme importance. The incredible speed that the pods travel dictate a strait hyperloop shot into the city.  In my head, I thought it would be appropriate to put the hyperloop station next to I-25. That would also put it approximately next to Union Station, the epicenter of all public transportation in metro Denver and regionally.

The images of the recently updated Union Station are breathtaking.  The  platforms are totally futuristic. Unfortunately, the train/rail technology is totally not futuristic.  When Amtrak starts using the facility, as 9News reported,  it will once again feel like a hub of opportunity and possibility.

The “other” rail and transportation hub in Denver is nearing Completion. The RTD’s East Rail Line, from Union Station to DIA is said to be 60% complete. DIA’s unnamed station has some serious baggage. The project has taken a life on its own. First, is the fact that it wasn’t built when the airport was built. Second, is that the managers of DIA and the developers of DIA seem to be tapping into public funds at their own accord. The Denver Post wrote an eye opening piece outlining the underbelly of this mega transportation infrastructure.

“The $544 million price tag for Denver International Airport’s showcase hotel and train terminal construction project does not include at least $128 million in what airport management calls “additional related” costs, putting its real cost 34 percent over the $500 million budget proposed three years ago.

As the cost of the project rose, airport officials have insisted it remains on or close to budget. But in order to do that, they have excluded related costs and apparently cut spending in other critical areas. During the past two years, DIA management slashed more than $200 million from the airport’s runway-repair budget and other long-term maintenance projects, a Denver Post investigation found.”

Read more: Denver airport cuts maintenance as costs of showcase project rise – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25256976/denver-airport-cuts-maintenance-costs-showcase-project-rise#ixzz2uoWSXXWN
Read The Denver Post’s Terms of Use of its content:
@Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook

Seriously, why build a pointless hotel when it will take money out of the runway-repair budget? I highly recommend the article. It touches on the interplay between DIA staff, Airlines, the Denver City Council and former employees. It ends on the quote:

‘It’s either a visionary project or a lesson for the rest of us.’

Hopefully, the Colorado Hyperloop will never be like the DIA project. But the echos of 1995, and DIA’s missteps are still sailent on this final upgrade to the DIA’s mega project.  http://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/19/us/mistake-or-modern-marvel-denver-airport-set-to-open.html .

Hyperloop needs more publicity, LA subway/light rail Map in the Near Future

LA futuristic subway map

Saw the below Gizmodo article based on the the movie Her. The image above is from the blog post, and is a  subway map of their current system plus futuristic additions. However, it lacks a hyperloop. There needs to be more of a push for films, anime and other sci-fi mediums to put hyperloop designs into their media.  The public needs to think that hyperloops are the future…

Keep in mind this is a fictional work of design, created for a film, so it’s not geographically accurate, but you have to appreciate the vision and wit in this map that most of us have been fantasizing about for decades. The system ranges from the Angeles National Forest to Malibu over five lines, with stops at some familiar places and some completely invented (I especially love the stations named “Nail Spot” and “Hair Salon”). A new neighborhood, Melrose Center, which I would guess to be around modern-day Koreatown, has become a major hub, bigger than present-day downtown. And for those who bemoan our current transit options at the airport: The train not only goes to LAX now, but it makes THREE stops!

Most notable are the paths of some of the lines. While the gold/teal path almost traces the real-life Gold and Expo Lines (which will bring light rail to Santa Monica in 2015), others seem to mimic current freeway routes. There’s a junction named 101 Freeway Axis, and the orange line running over the Sepulveda Pass looks like it basically traces the 405 Freeway. Who knows? With this system up and running, we might be constructing the light rail lines over abandoned freeways in the future.

McFetridge would especially like to call attention to the fictional transit authority named Los Angeles Metro Light Rail (LAMLR) and the logo he designed for it: “From the Summit to the Sea.” Not a bad tagline to aspire to, L.A.

Gizmodo and Reddit

 

A Colorado Hyperloop

Welcome to Colorado Hyperloop blog.Hope this will be a place where people can share ideas and come together to implement a hyperloop system for Colorado.

Lots of news yesterday of Musk’s announcement as well as other news articles from all over discussing the roots of the hyperloop system starting in Colorado with et3.com .

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2013/08/hyperloop_daryl_oster_elon_musk_colorado.php

Probably a 300 mph line between Boulder and Denver @wind4me. You do the RTD equation.
— ET3 Transport (@ET3Transport) August 12, 2013