DENVER — Travelers between Greeley and Denver International Airport could bypass the familiar U.S. Highway 85 and the Weld County Parkway if backers of a proposed hyperloop linking the city and DIA have their way.
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Saturday that the route is one of 35 semifinalists selected worldwide by Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles based company that seeks to build levitation-based technology to carry passengers and cargo systems at speeds of up to 700 mph.
The Rocky Mountain team includes CDOT and global infrastructure firm AECOM as primary sponsors, in concert with the city of Greeley and the city and county of Denver/Denver International Airport.
“We are excited about the opportunity to provide the progressive perspective that Hyperloop One brings — it will change our customers’ current perception of transportation, and as a result, revolutionize what we think we know,” Shailen Bhatt, executive director of CDOT, said in a prepared statement. “We have made a bold commitment to our customers to be a national leader in innovative technology that improves our transportation system. The Hyperloop technology directly aligns with our goals of reducing the cost of transporting goods; of turning rural state highways into zero death roads; and of decreasing congestion within Colorado’s critical corridors.”
Hyperloop One fielded 2,600 registrants in five months for its Hyperloop One Global Challenge. The Global Challenge kicked off in May 2016 as an open call to individuals, universities, companies and governments to develop comprehensive proposals for using Hyperloop One’s disruptive transport technology in their region to move passengers and freight point-to-point, swiftly, and on-demand.
“The Hyperloop One Global Challenge unleashed ideas from some of the world’s most creative engineers and planners, who care as much as we do about the future of transportation,” Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, said in the press release. “These are all solutions that can make a real and immediate social and economic impact.”
The CDOT Team proposed that construction of a first phase for the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop be a 40-mile route from Denver International Airport to Greeley, connecting the region’s hub of transportation and commerce with the highest growth area of Northern Colorado.
“With the rapid pace of population growth and land development, these major urban centers have become one megatropolis,” the press release stated. “Hyperloop would accelerate this evolution and better connect centers of activity and industry.”
“The proposed Rocky Mountain Hyperloop aligns with the industrial and commercial development planned on Greeley’s wide open plains at the eastern edge of our city,” added Greeley mayor Tom Norton. “Hyperloop technology provides an unbelievable opportunity for all of Northern Colorado, and for Greeley in particular, at only 40 miles from Denver International Airport, to continue to be the business hub for Northern Colorado, providing goods and services to people throughout the region.”
Hyperloop One semifinalists come from 17 countries, representing every continent except Antarctica. The United States has 11 teams left, India five and the United Kingdom four. Hyperloop is the brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk.