As Governor Northam and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced expansion of rail services in the Commonwealth of Virginia, gubernatorial candidate Peter Doran floated an expensive – and expansive – transportation policy position. Doran, a former foreign policy think tank CEO whose campaign has gained little traction outside of Northern Virginia, introduced a proposal for Virginia to build a “hyperloop” system and place the hub in Southwest Virginia.
Doran stated, “New technologies like HyperLoop will provide opportunities for people in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It will create jobs as well as new options for Virginians to have more choices in where to live and work. Providing realistic, current-gen (not last-gen) solutions that can tie Virginia’s far-flung regions together? That will make us the best.”
A hyperloop is a high speed rail system that uses vacuum technology while traveling underground at extreme speeds. Doran also explained on Twitter the benefits of this system, including a video of Elon Musk’s hyperloop.
What's a Hyperloop?
— Peter Doran (@PeterBDoran) March 30, 2021
Doran said there is a lack of vision by government officials for only focusing on decreasing carbon emissions, while transportation problems continue to mount. He then proposes having a hyperloop train headquartered in Wytheville, Virginia. According to the first time candidate, Wytheville is a transportation hub where Interstate 77 and Interstate 81 meet, making it a natural place for this hyperloop. He also wants to build links to major cities across the eastern seaboard. He sites the fact that West Virginia was granted test track for billionaire Richard Branson’s hyperloop, bringing economic impact of $48 million per year, per a release from Governor Jim Justice (R-West Virginia).
The proposal did not provide an initial explanation of how Virginians would fund such an expense. Forbes magazine once published a report stating that a small hyperloop in the California Bay Area, consisting of just 107 miles of track, could cost taxpayers between $84 million and $121 million per mile of track, or nearly $13 billion.
Doran’s idea was mocked by Roanoke Times reporter Amy Friedenburger.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Peter Doran wants to build a HyperLoop hub in Southwest Virginia.
Sounds exciting, but so do lots of ideas that don't come with a proposal about how to pay for them, which this one doesn't. pic.twitter.com/Hm99g0KDyK
— Amy Friedenberger (@AJFriedenberger) March 30, 2021
His proposals also earned the criticism of Delegate Lee Carter (D-Prince William), who is competing for the Democratic nomination for governor.
— Lee J. Carter (@carterforva) March 31, 2021
When asked a follow up question by The Virginia Star, Doran campaign staffer Kevin Curran explained how they were going to fund this effort. “We see a major and positive role for Federal infrastructure dollars to fund the program. As governor, Virginia will build a Congressional coalition of six states (detailed in the plan) to make it happen.” Curran then talked about how the governor was supposed to build coalitions across other states to get this built.
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