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Mahmassani Fields Media Calls About Proposed ORD Hyperloop

Tesla, SpaceX founder and entrepreneur Elon Musk joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel on June 14, 2018, to announce plans to construct a “Hyperloop” in Chicago—an underground tunnel equipped with self-driving, electric vehicles to shuttle tourists, workers and residents between the Chicago Loop and O’Hare International Airport in just 12 minutes. Today that same trip is one hour by car and roughly 40 minutes by CTA ‘L’ train.

Musk’s Boring Company won the bidding war and will manage the project, which will be paid for by private investors. The company is currently developing transit cars which would run on electric skates and would move people, either individually or in groups of up to 16, at speeds up to 150 mph. Passengers cars would travel via a 14-foot diameter tunnel, which will be dug by a new tunnel boring machine, which the company also has in development.

Following the June 14 announcement, NUTC director Hani Mahmassani fielded calls from media outlets seeking expert perspective on the connected and autonomous vehicle proposal. “I suspect it’s going to evolve a few times before anything gets done,” Mahmassani told Bloomberg News. “That said, with his other companies, [Musk] has been able to pursue and fulfill visions that others say are too difficult.” As Mahmassani told NPR, “Every major metropolitan area has an airport access problem in this country as well as around the world.” As far as the risks associated with the new technology, he told the Sun-Times, “I’m really not that concerned that there are not a bunch of similar projects already built. If that were the criteria, nothing new would ever get done, and we might never have had the L train that carries people around today.”

Read more of Mahmassani’s comments on Chicago’s Hyperloop plans in Crain’s Chicago Business, Interesting Engineering,, Yahoo Finance, and Financial Review.

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