A representative of Baltimore said Musk hadn’t raised the plan with them, either, although Baltimore mayor Catherine Pugh issued a statement welcoming the idea.
“I am excited to hear about Elon Musk’s underground hyperloop connecting New York to Washington, DC through Baltimore,” Mayor Pugh said. “If his plan becomes a reality it has tremendous potential to create new opportunities for Baltimore and transform the way we link to neighboring cities.”
Musk, the billionaire technology guru behind the electric car company Tesla and space venture SpaceX, first floated the idea for an ultra-fast transportation system in 2013 with a 58-page outline titled Alfa Hyperloop. The idea is to build a pneumatic tube that would whisk passengers between Las Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes. The system would send transit pods at 700 miles per hour, achieving great speeds by reducing air friction inside the tube.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted that the east coast system would be built in parallel with the LA-San Francisco route.
But building a mega-project through the most populated areas of the country would require several layers of permitting at the municipal, state, and federal levels, including environmental appraisals, said Madeline Brozen, associate director at the UCLA Institute for Transportation Studies — not least of which from the cities intended to be the main destinations.
“I have a lot of doubts and questions about the feasibility of getting it done,” Brozen said. “What’s the environmental review process? What’s the technology? People are scratching their heads about what this actually means.”
The project would likely cost billions, Brozen said.
Musk’s tweets might be aimed at generating excitement about the concept in advance of having concrete plans and permits, Brozen said.
“It’s not uncommon for people with big ideas to make big pronouncements to try to get people excited,” Brozen said, or to “put out a big idea and see if it sticks.”
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Musk himself followed up his initial round of tweets with a call for people who support the idea to push local and national officials to allow it.
“If you want this to happen fast, please let your local & federal elected representatives know. Makes a big difference if they hear from you,” Musk tweeted.
A spokesperson for the mayor’s office in Washington DC welcomed the idea, but said no one in her office had heard of it before.
“To be honest, this is the first time we’re hearing of it,” said Susana Castillo, deputy press secretary for the mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser. “We’re looking forward to hearing what they have to say. Right now we haven’t been approached by them.”
Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio, tweeted: “The entirety of what we know about this proposal is what's in Mr. Musk's Tweet. That is not how we evaluate projects of any scale.”
He then went on to joke about constructing a “Midtown-to-the-Moon gondola.”
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