Denver hopes hyperloop-inspired startup can eliminate traffic with 200-mph transport tubes

It’s not quite a hyperloop, but Denver may one day get a next-generation transportation system that will move passengers and vehicles at speeds up to 200 mph if an ambitious new plan works out.

Los Angeles-based Arrivo Corp. announced a deal with the Colorado Department of Transportation on Tuesday to build a test track for its hyperloop-inspired high-speed transportation system that uses magnetic levitation. Vehicles would travel on sleds through enclosed tubes largely parallel to existing highways.

“People will tell you that a well-functioning freeway can move 2,000 to 2,500 vehicles an hour,” Arrivo co-founder Brogan BamBrogan — formerly of Hyperloop One and SpaceX — said at a news conference Tuesday, according to the Denver Post. “The Arrivo system — because it’s a dedicated roadway with 21st century technology — can move 20,000 vehicles an hour.”

“Our focus is on ending traffic,” BamBrogan said. If all goes well, Arrivo hopes its network of tubes will be open for business in 2021.

Read: How Elon Musk and shorter commutes could transform people’s lives

If the technology is successfully implemented, the system could alleviate traffic in the booming Denver area, and dramatically shorten travel times. Arrivo said the hour-long commute from Denver to Boulder could be whittled down to eight minutes, and travelers could get from downtown Denver to the airport — also about an hour away by car — in nine minutes.

“We are reaching max roads in many cases in Colorado,” said Shailen Bhatt, executive director of CDOT, according to CNBC. “Arrivo has a unique and practical approach to implementing hyperloop technology to eliminate traffic and dramatically improve the way people and goods move around the city.”

Arrivo plans to start building a test track and research facility in Commerce City, Colo., in early 2018 for about $10 million to $15 million. Neither Arrivo nor the CDOT estimated how much the entire project could cost, but a separate proposal by Virgin Hyperloop One to build a hyperloop route along the state’s Front Range is estimated to cost $24 billion.

BamBrogan co-founded Hyperloop One, but left last year after a bitter falling out with his co-founder, Shervin Pishevar, and other company executives. Last month, the company announced a partnership with Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, and renamed the company Virgin Hyperloop One.

A hyperloop, which was first proposed by Tesla Inc. TSLA, -2.12%   and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk in 2013, would move pods through a vacuum tube at speeds up to 700 mph. Musk is currently working on a plan to fix Los Angeles traffic by using his Boring Co. to build a high-speed tunnel system. Musk has also pitched high-speed tunnels to Chicago and the Northeast, with a New York-Washington route.

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