Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative

Our Rapid-Speed Transportation Initiative builds upon MORPC’s ongoing efforts to develop stronger transportation connections with neighboring regions. This initiative is focused on improving connectivity to Chicago and Pittsburgh through exploration of two transportation technologies, including traditional passenger rail and hyperloop.

Initial Studies

Initially, MORPC will conduct two studies as part of this initiative: a feasibility study of Hyperloop technology for the corridor, followed by components of an environmental impact statement for the corridor. Virgin Hyperloop One is participating to provide technical expertise related to hyperloop technologies for both study phases.

Phase 1: Hyperloop Feasibility Study

The Midwest Connect Feasibility Study will explore potential hyperloop routes connecting Columbus to Pittsburgh and Chicago. The study will include two potential route alignments for evaluation. One option follows the rail corridor featured in the Hyperloop One Global Challenge Midwest Connect corridor proposal; the other is an alternative to be defined as part of the study work. At a minimum, the potential routes will include the following cities: Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lima, Marysville, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

The Midwest Connect Feasibility Study will enhance work already completed by MORPC, which submitted the winning proposal to Virgin Hyperloop One as part of its “Global Challenge” competition last year, further explained here. This study will also further define and identify the optimal range of initial implementation and alignment and initial stations and end-points. Additionally, the study will provide estimates of transportation demand and economic benefits, develop a business case, implementation strategy and stakeholder and public engagement strategy.

Phase 2: Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the Corridor

For the second phase of the initiative, MORPC, along with partners in Lima, Marysville, and Union County are completing initial components of a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study to advance intercity, rapid-speed transportation service between Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

The study complements and incorporates work for the corridor portion between Chicago, Fort Wayne, and Lima currently underway by the Indiana corridor partners that includes the city of Fort Wayne in collaboration with the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association. The Columbus to Chicago Passenger Rail project began as an effort to study passenger rail and identify investment needs to improve freight flows and freight rail congestion between Chicago and Columbus. The project has since evolved to include Pittsburgh in the corridor and expand the scope of study to include other high-speed transportation options that are available, such as hyperloop. The EIS work will collect data, document existing conditions, prepare a purpose and need statement, provide route alternatives and service alternatives for proposed routes, and evaluate infrastructure investments.

Timeline

The initial study phases are expected to be completed by early spring of 2019. The results of these studies will inform later phases of the Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative, which could include additional Tier 1 EIS work.

For more information, contact Dina Lopez at 614.233.4149.

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