• Kansas City to St. Louis Hyperloop Project Kicks Off with Feasibility Study

    Jan 30, 2018

    missouri map_previewKANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, January 30, 2018 -- The Missouri Hyperloop Coalition, a public-private partnership dedicated to advancing a hyperloop route linking Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis, today announced an agreement to move forward on a groundbreaking, in-depth feasibility study of an ultra-high-speed hyperloop route along I-70 in Missouri. Black and Veatch, a global leader in building critical infrastructure, headquartered in Kansas City, will conduct the study in partnership with Virgin Hyperloop One and the University of Missouri System.

    “Led by a coalition that first met through the Governor’s Innovation Task Force last summer, the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition is bringing innovators from across Missouri together to imagine how we can act boldly to compete in the future,” Missouri’s Chief Operating Officer, Drew Erdmann said.

    “Black & Veatch is pleased to be part of the Missouri Coalition team working to bring the hyperloop to our region,” said Steve Edwards, Chairman and CEO of Black & Veatch. “Working with the team at Virgin Hyperloop One, University of Missouri and our Coalition partners, we believe our experience in next-generation transportation and large scale infrastructure development will play a key role in moving the project forward."

    The feasibility study will analyze the technical alignment as well as the potential economic impact and benefits of integrating hyperloop into the I-70 corridor connecting Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis. It will also outline the next steps required for an eventual hyperloop project in the state, including development of a high-level cost estimate and funding model recommendations to enable the project to move forward.

    “MoDOT is committed to delivering transportation solutions of lasting value and moving passengers and freight across Missouri safely and reliably. The State of Missouri will be a beneficiary of the feasibility study, and we look forward to contributing data and information to the study. We are especially pleased that the private sector is taking the helm and MoDOT will be able to participate without using Missouri taxpayer dollars,” says Michael DeMers, Director of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding at the Missouri Department of Transportation.

    “We are very excited and supportive of this effort to bring hyperloop to Missouri,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri System. “This project has enormous economic potential for our state and could improve collaborative efforts of our researchers with colleagues throughout the state in ways we can only imagine right now. Additionally, I believe there are significant benefits to current faculty and students and prospective students with this transformational transportation system.”

    “By embracing innovations like hyperloop, Missouri can enhance its competitiveness and dramatically alter the way people and goods move,” said Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd. “A hyperloop connection between the state’s two thriving cities can help provide millions of residents with greater access to jobs and opportunities -- giving Missouri an undeniable edge in attracting new business and talent.”

    “The ability to seamlessly connect the economy in Kansas City with the rest of the state, and beyond, should have every business leader dreaming about the possibilities,” said KC Tech Council president Ryan Weber. “Tech industry leaders, in particular, are thrilled about the opportunity for our transportation and infrastructure to match the innovative spirit and demonstrated growth in Kansas City’s tech community.”

    “The fact that the broader business community has embraced this opportunity sets Missouri apart,” said Andrew Smith, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “We have a long history of transportation innovation—from the birth of the interstate highway system to funding the first trans-Atlantic flight. There is no reason why Missouri can’t be the site of the first inter-city Hyperloop route.”

    “It’s exciting to see this project moving forward,” Rob Dixon, Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development said. “With innovations like Hyperloop, we’re demonstrating that Missouri isn’t afraid to take on bold new ideas that make our state a better place to live and do business.”

    Missouri's proposed hyperloop route would connect a combined five million residents in Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis with a journey time under 30-minutes, enabling residents to access growing business communities, research universities, and a network of world-class technology, plant science and animal health research hubs. A hyperloop connection could help to ease increasing passenger and freight congestion in the 240-mile corridor.

    Hyperloop is a new ultra-high-speed mode of transportation that moves freight and people quickly, safely, on-demand and direct from origin to destination. In a hyperloop, passengers and cargo are loaded into a pod, and accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube. The pod quickly lifts above the track using magnetic levitation and glides at speeds up to 640 miles per hour for long distances due to ultra-low aerodynamic drag. Recently Virgin Hyperloop One set a historic test speed record of nearly 240 miles per hour (387 kilometers per hour 107 meters per second) during its third phase of testing at DevLoop, the world’s first full-scale hyperloop test site.

    Missouri originally proposed the I-70 route to Hyperloop One two years ago as part of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s “Road to Tomorrow” project to promote innovation along I-70. The project was also referenced in the summary report issued by the Governor’s Innovation Task Force.

    To view Missouri’s proposed hyperloop route map as well as hyperloop b-roll click here. Hyperloop media images can be accessed at: https://hyperloop-one.com/media-gallery.


    About the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition
    Formed in October 2017, the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition is a public-private partnership to advance the building of a hyperloop route linking Kansas City, Columbia, and St. Louis along the I-70 interstate corridor. The coalition is comprised of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the KC Tech Council, the University of Missouri System, and the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia. Coalition organizers include Andrew Smith, Bill Turpin, Ryan Weber, and Thomas Blair as well as other private sector leaders.

    About Virgin Hyperloop One
    Virgin Hyperloop One is the only company in the world that has built a fully operational hyperloop system. Our team has the world's leading experts in engineering, technology, and transport project delivery, working in tandem with global partners and investors to make hyperloop a reality, now. For more information, visit www.hyperloop-one.com.

    About Black & Veatch
    Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, it has helped clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering, construction, operations and program management. Company revenues in 2016 were $3.2 billion. Follow Black & Veatch at www.bv.com and in social media.

  • Missouri Must Invest More in Higher Education

    Jan 25, 2018

    Workforce development is economic development.  Countless studies point to the return on investment that accompanies increased spending on higher education, and business leaders regularly note that one of the greatest barriers to growing their business is a shortage of skilled workers. Unfortunately, the Governor’s 2019 budget recommendation for the State of Missouri, which includes $68 million dollars in cuts to higher education, falls short in making our state’s workforce the priority it should be.

    Employers across the St. Louis region and the state of Missouri regularly cite a skilled workforce as critical to their companies’ ability to grow and thrive.  According to the State of the St. Louis Workforce Report released in 2017, employers’ top concern today is not government regulation or current economic conditions, but finding the right talent. At the St. Louis Regional Chamber, we hear this same concern from employers considering St. Louis as a possible location for expanding their business. They often use the concentration of people who possess an Associate’s degree or higher as a primary indicator to judge the health of the region’s economic climate.   

    The cuts to higher education threaten Missouri’s ability to compete nationally and globally. The proposed cuts would undermine our ability to provide more people a quality post-secondary education at precisely the time when it is becoming increasingly more essential both for business and individuals. Cutting investment in higher education increases college costs, primarily shifting the burden to students. It reduces critical support services at state institutions that are essential to helping students successfully complete their degrees or credentials. Moreover, it expands an already wide gap in who can afford the post-secondary credentials needed to thrive in our economy, ensuring that higher education has become a privilege of the affluent rather than an essential resource for all residents.

    Economic prosperity for individuals has become increasingly tied to their ability to obtain credentials beyond high school. New data by the Bureau of Labor statistics proves that post-secondary education is essential for finding jobs in today’s economy. At the same time, growing tuition rates and the fear of accumulating debt have discouraged a significant number of people from considering college an option. When our state budget reflects the notion that higher education is not a priority, it contributes to a narrative that suggests “college is not worth it” despite the reality of economic data suggesting the opposite.

    Investment in higher education is fundamentally an investment in the public good. While we know that higher education is essential for career and workforce preparation, its value to the public at large exists beyond that.  Higher education prepares critical thinkers, innovators, creators, entrepreneurs and change agents. This benefits all of us. Our society and our democracy is stronger because of education at all levels. Leaders across the state of Missouri must work together to prioritize what we know is essential for job creation and continued economic development: increased educational attainment. A college degree should not be considered a commodity only available to those with financial means—an alarming scenario created by the kinds of cuts to higher education proposed in the state budget.

    While we applaud a number of the Governor’s recommendations for education funding, specifically significant increases in K-12 funding as well as a $2 million increase to Access Missouri, our state’s need-based aid program. We remain concerned, however, that these increases will be insufficient if funding for higher education is not considered the priority it needs to be, if post-secondary education is out of reach for so many of Missouri’s students.

    We urge members of the General Assembly to remember that our state’s most valuable asset is its people. We can only create jobs, fill those jobs, and ensure economic opportunity for people living in Missouri if we make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable, not less so.