Big tech coming to the Mountain State.
West Virginia is zooming into the future at warp speed after a $500 million investment announced last week by Virgin Hyperloop. The money will fund a high-tech certification center planned for Tucker County that will support the development of hyperloop transportation technology. The state was one of more than a dozen others that prepared proposals aimed at luring the development, and West Virginia rose above the rest.
What does this mean for everyday West Virginians? Directly, the construction of the center will mean thousands of temporary jobs in the region. Once construction is complete, it will mean 200 permanent high-tech jobs based in Tucker County. For future travelers, as soon as 2030 according to some sources, the developments and testing happening at the center could lead to travel from Pittsburgh to Chicago or from New York City to Washington, D.C., in under an hour and at a cost substantially less than an airline ticket. Developers also plan to use hyperloop technology for moving goods around the country faster than Amazon can say “Prime.”
Hyperloop travel uses magnetic levitation to move capsules inside hyperloop tubes at speeds over 600 miles per hour. The technology eliminates the air and friction involved with other types of high-speed travel, making for a smooth and quiet ride. Capsules will be designed to carry nine to 12 passengers and extensive freight around the country.
A hyperloop test track was built in the desert outside Las Vegas in 2017, and the first commercial line ready for freight might be built in India within the next decade. Testing the technology in a variety of temperatures and landscapes is an important part of readying it for human passengers and valuable goods. The mountainous terrain and chilling winter temperatures of Tucker County deliver a few of the taxing parameters that developers need to continue testing and to ensure the science works as it should. Construction is set to begin in 2022.