In the middle of last year, Elon Musk announced that he had “verbal government approval” to build a Washington DC to New York City Hyperloop that would shuttle passengers between the two cities in just 29 minutes.
The plan was classic Musk-level audacity, but one thing that was also quintessentially Musk was the lack of details. “Verbal government approval” doesn’t mean much, and without any hard plans or route guidance to go off, most people filed the plan away in the Things Elon Says drawer.
But thanks to a permit from DC government, The Boring Company can now conduct preparatory and excavation work in an old car park in Washington’s NoMa district. The Boring Company didn’t divulge its full plans for the site, but a spokesperson told the Washington Post that “a New York Avenue location, if constructed, could become a station” in the broader Hyperloop system.
To be clear, this isn’t a permit to build a Hyperloop. It’s a license to dig a big hole in the ground and do some prep work. Obtaining permission from the federal government and four states to dig a giant underground tunnel, all associated infrastructure, and a bunch of stations will take much longer.
But if nothing else, it shows that The Boring Company is serious about following through on Musk’s vision. Government officials at every level have been cautiously welcoming of a Hyperloop, but without clear details about the route, timeline, or funding, it’s difficult for any government to take a real policy stance. The DC Mayor’s Chief of Staff, John Falcicchio, gave a statement to the Washington Post that demonstrates just how hard it is for any administration to go all-in on Musk’s plan just yet:
“We’re just beginning, in the mayor’s office, our conversation to get an understanding of what the general vision is for Hyperloop,” Falcicchio said. Asked whether the Bowser administration supports the project, he was somewhat upbeat but noncommittal, adding: “We’re open to the concept of moving people around the region more efficiently.”