Part of a series highlighting proposed U.S. routes from the Hyperloop One Global Challenge. Posts featured Hyperloop proposals in the Midwest, Colorado, Florida, and Nevada. Update: The US: Dallas-Loredo-Houston route was named one of ten winners of the Challenge in September 2017.
Texas is known for its wide-open spaces, vibrant cities, and a business-friendly climate -- all the right ingredients for what could be one of America’s first Hyperloop One routes.
AECOM put together a strong proposal for a 640-mile Texas corridor that would serve some of the world’s busiest international air, sea, and inland ports and connect five of the top eight fastest growing cities in America: Dallas (both DFW airport and the downtown CBD), Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. These cities make up an area the size of Georgia, with a population expected to reach 33 million by 2030, about the current population of Australia. A Hyperloop One system can connect them all with vehicle speeds of up to 700 mph.
“Based on the geography, population growth and strong economic climate, Hyperloop One has an opportunity to transform this region and create one of first global megaregions,” says Steven Duong, an urban designer with AECOM in Texas. Here’s quick video with Texas Hyperloop representatives (l to r) Jerry Smiley, Steven Duong, and John Song.
A key feature of the proposal is to combine a passenger system serving the main “Texas Triangle” cities of Dallas, Houston and San Antonio/Austin with a cargo Hyperloop to the border city of Laredo, home to North America’s busiest inland freight port. The port of Laredo is arguably one of the most important economic assets to the country. Close to $300 billion in annual trade flows through it from Mexico, China, Japan, and Malaysia. The combination of freight and passenger volumes, coupled with the efficiency of connections between so many economic hot spots, would maximize the potential of Hyperloop One’s fast, packetized transport system.
A More Efficient Economy
With passenger and freight vehicles arriving and departing at portals (aka stations) a few times per minute, a Texas Hyperloop would create efficiencies throughout the region. A shopkeeper in Austin could restock every couple of hours during peak SXSW festival days, rather than run out of goods and lose sales. An auto manufacturer that makes parts in Mexico and assembles the cars in Texas currently must ship parts frequently between the two locations, waiting up to weeks at a time for deliveries, which are often delayed by unpredictable congestion at the border. With a Hyperloop portal nearby, the automaker can seamlessly connect both the parts and assembly plants on either side of the border and ship between them immediately, creating an efficient superhub.
The Texas Hyperloop proposal has the backing of AECOM's team of urban planners, engineers, economists and policy experts, who have hundreds of years of combined experience delivering major infrastructure projects. What’s more, the proposal is already supported by a who’s who of Lone Star officials, including Dallas Area Rapid Transit, Austin Capital Metro, City of Dallas, Houston-Galveston Area Council, the Port Authority of Houston, Public Werks and the US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.
Their proposal would locate the Texas Hyperloop along Interstate 35 between DFW and Laredo, and along Interstate 10 between San Antonio and Houston. These are some of the busiest roads in the country and will only get more congested if nothing is done about it. State planners say the 20 miles between Austin to San Antonio will become a 3-hour commute by 2035 without some kind of relief.
A complementary Hyperloop freight link along the congested section of I-35 between San Antonio and Laredo would relieve the pressure on the highways as trade keeps growing. NAFTA truck traffic is expected to increase 300% on I-35 by 2035. Relieving the congestion would also help Texas metro areas meet their mandated clean-air targets by taking trucks off the road, and allow Texas to invest in improving existing roads and highways rather than adding more lanes to existing roads.
A Texas Triangle Hyperloop would keep the state at the forefront of economic growth innovation.