Last year, tech mogul and super villain cosplayer Elon Musk tweeted that he had received “verbal govt approval” to construct a Hyperloop train tunnel to provide high-speed transportation service between New York and Washington, D.C. in less than 30 minutes. The tweet was widely criticized, as many noted that verbal approval means little to nothing when it comes to massive infrastructure projects.
But last week, the tunnel appeared to take an ever-so-small (but vital) step towards becoming a reality. In a story published on Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Boring Company, Musk’s tunnel-digging business, had received a building permit to begin preliminary excavation work in Northeast Washington, D.C. Issued on November 29, the permit could be indicative of the future site of a Hyperloop station in the District.
For those who aren’t up to date with the latest transit trends, Hyperloop is a maglev-powered transportation concept that hurls trans through pneumatic tubes at speeds upwards of 800 miles per hour. Musk was an early adopter to the idea—he first pitched it publicly in 2013 in response to a proposal for the California High-Speed Rail. In 2016, he constructed a test track for the concept in Hawthorne, California, and hosted a design competition for teams to test car and train prototypes for the system.
But for now, Musk isn’t primarily focused on the trains themselves—he’s more concerned with the painstaking work that is required to dig a tunnel network across the eastern seaboard. The Boring Company claims that it can reduce the cost of tunneling to less than one-tenth of the current average of $1 billion per mile.
The plan for a New York-to-D.C. Hyperloop train (with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore in between) is still a long way from being finalized. Even so, the report of the permit in D.C. is great news for anyone who is interested in escaping New York City without dealing with a miserable trip to the airport or the Port Authority.