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The prospects of a Hyperloop transportation system continue to boggle our minds: the technology, the speed, the astronomical price tag.

Who wouldn't want a futuristic system that shoots passengers across the state at the speed of sound, using a tube floating above a track with magnetic levitation?

But, as with any new technology, being the first to adopt it means overcoming big barriers.

While the technology exists, this has never been done before. Many questions exist about the safety of a Hyperloop. More engineering and more testing would be needed before the project could come to fruition.

Assuming proper safety precautions were made, many other questions persist. Among them: Who would use it? Would it be affordable to the general public? To what extent would it ease traffic on I-70 or other Missouri roads?

Then, there's the funding questions. The estimated cost of the project is $7.3 billion-$10.4 billion. On the upper end, that's about one third of the state government budget.

A lot of roads could be repaved with that kind of money, among other things.

Missouri taxpayers, we suspect, aren't going to be interested in funding it unless public-private partnership leans heavily on the latter.

Los Angeles-based Virgin Hyperloop One plans to seek a request for proposals to determine whom it will partner with for the pioneer project. Missouri Hyperloop supporters want Missouri to be that pioneer.

The economic benefits are projected in the range of $1.67 billion-$3.68 billion, with the creation of 7,600-17,200 new jobs, the Associated Press reported. Increased real estate values around Hyperloop portal locations are anticipated, as are increased local and state tax revenues, strengthening of industries; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, specifically carbon dioxide.

But should we be that early adopter? Should we be that person who has the iPhone 11 Pro on launch day? Or should we wait until the bugs are ironed out and we can perhaps get it for a little less, after the research and development costs are already paid?

News Tribune

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