New Study Findings Advance Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative

October 23, 2019

Recent studies examining a corridor through Central Ohio that would connect to Chicago and Pittsburgh have provided new, useful information related to two rapid-speed transportation technologies – traditional passenger rail and hyperloop.

The studies are part of MORPC’s Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative (RSTI), which has been underway for more than a year. The first phase of the RSTI is comprised of two studies: A hyperloop feasibility study and components of an environmental impact.

“This is an eventful time for Ohio when it comes to transportation innovation and visionary leadership. Improving the connectivity of our region to Chicago and Pittsburgh will open up new opportunity for economic growth and prosperity in Central Ohio and across the Midwest.”
MORPC Transportation & Infrastructure Development Director Thea Walsh

Hyperloop Feasibility Study

The hyperloop feasibility study evaluates two potential route alignments. One option follows the rail corridor featured in the Virgin Hyperloop One Global Challenge Midwest Connect corridor proposal; the other is an alternative that emerged as part of the study work.  At this time, the potential routes include the following cities: Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lima, Marysville, Dublin, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

Some of the study highlights include:

  • The corridor is feasible, and the route alignment as defined in the study is a combination of some new right-of-way and existing rail right-of-way
  • The route will be a mixture of tunneling, at-grade and above-grade structures
  • The route proposed is feasible for optimal average speeds of 500 miles per hour
  • The overall economic benefits are estimated at $300 billion over a span of 30 years, with $19 billion in the form of direct transportation economic benefits
  • Nearly $126 million of economic benefits is in the form of emissions reduction

Environmental Impact Study (EIS) Components

This study involves the initial components of a Tier I EIS study that catches up to the work completed by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA). The NIPRA study included the corridor from Chicago to Lima. The MORPC environmental study collects and analyzes information for the corridor between Lima and Pittsburgh, and merges both the NIPRA and MORPC studies into one seamless deliverable.

The study results include:

  • An existing conditions report
  • Route and station alternatives report (passenger rail)
  • A draft of a purpose and need statement (for both passenger rail and hyperloop)

Both the feasibility study and the environmental impact study are slated for completion by November 30. The findings from the study of the two options will provide a framework to further understand the social, environmental, economic benefits, and impacts to modern transportation technologies.

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