Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr's Blue Ribbon Panel is one step closer to submitting its report to the speaker after Friday's meeting, which is set to be the panel's last in-person meeting.
On Friday, the panel met at the Missouri Innovation Center in Columbia to review and discuss the draft of the report and debate any changes.
At a meeting in August, Vice Chairman Andrew Smith, of St. Louis, told the News Tribune the report is meant to do two things: Provide a specific outline of how Missouri may be able to develop a Hyperloop system in the state and how to make Missouri the global center for the development of the technology.
The proposed Hyperloop in Missouri would connect Kansas City and St. Louis with a track that could transport passengers in 30-40 minutes, compared to the current almost four-hour drive.
The panel has been working with Virgin Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles-based company which has already developed a test track in Nevada. A feasibility study on the project has also been done by Kansas City's Black & Veatch engineering firm.
At Friday's meeting, the panel spent a little less than two hours discussing the draft of the report and any changes members thought should be made. Much of the changes discussed were more about specific language used and less about the actual content of the report.
"To me, today was about specific language, making sure that we're being fair to all the regions in the state, and it was about understanding what is the scope of what we've been asked to do," Smith said. "We're not the Legislature; we can't write the laws. We're not the governor; we can't issue executive orders. We need to be respectful of them and the political process that this is going to have to go through."
Various members of the panel brought up sections of the report they believed may not have been within the panel's scope, like suggesting potential routes as opposed to just listing the options or including which bodies will regulate the route if it is built.
Smith said changes will be made to the report based on the panel's discussion, and a final draft will be prepared. The panel will then meet remotely through either conference call or video chat and make sure they are ready to finalize the report.
If finalized, the report could be delivered to the speaker within the next few weeks.
Sometime in October, Virgin Hyperloop One will be sending a request for proposal for a test track to each state in the country. Smith said the work Missouri has already done will allow the state to submit a competitive response.
"I think it's very likely that we're going to compete aggressively for that," Smith told the panel.
If Missouri is chosen for the certification test track, it would be a good sign a commercial route between the two cities would follow, Smith said.
A test pod from Virgin Hyperloop One is going to be on display at the University of Missouri Francis Quadrangle from noon Thursday to noon the following day. Virgin Hyperloop One engineers will also host a guest lecture for the College of Engineering.
Following that, the pod will move to St. Louis for the 2019 American Association of State Highway and Transport Officials' conference Oct. 5-7. It was previously on display at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City on Sept. 13.