Last year, Elon Musk said his Boring Company had received "verbal approval" to begin digging a tunnel for a Hyperloop connecting New York City and Washington, D.C. That approval wasn't exactly official, but now Musk has something more concrete.
D.C. officials have granted the Boring Company a permit to begin digging within the capital, reports The Washington Post. The permit only covers preliminary site preparation at a fenced-off parking lot next to McDonald's at 53 New York Avenue, in D.C.'s trendy NoMa neighborhood. It was issued Nov. 29.
A Boring Company spokesperson told The Washington Post that "a New York Avenue location, if constructed, could become a station" on a possible Hyperloop system. Stations would be "small in size and widely distributed in a network," the spokesperson said, as opposed to the large central downtown terminals used by railroad lines.
"We're just beginning, in the mayor's office, our conversation to get an understanding of what the general vision is for Hyperloop," John Falcicchio, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser's chief of staff, told The Washington Post. The city is still figuring out what other permits the Boring Company will need to dig a complete Hyperloop tunnel, and that's just the start.
The Boring Company would like to dig a tunnel that would connect D.C. with New York City, with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia. That means it would roughly follow the Northeast Corridor, the busiest passenger-rail route in the United States. But building an underground Hyperloop will require the cooperation of state and local governments beyond D.C.
Even if the Boring Company can get all of the necessary permits, it's unclear if a Hyperloop will work as Musk intended. Musk envisioned the Hyperloop as a way to fling people long distances at speeds approaching 800 mph. But while several companies are trying to develop full-scale Hyperloops, the most advanced have only built short test tracks, and haven't achieved the kind of speed Musk is talking about.