Anyone older than a certain age will look back on the era of supersonic travel and wonder why we seem to be commuting so slowly now. A current flight from JFK to London’s Heathrow Airport takes around eight hours. The distinctive Concorde craft, decommissioned for 10 years now, made the same trip in little under three and a half. Why are we slowing down?
The recently green-lit California Highspeed Rail project—a proposed 114-mile stretch of bullet-train track across the state—was set to speed up West Coast commuters. But one entrepreneur has decided that 220 mph (the top speed for the project) is just far too slow for the digital age.
Elon Musk, founder of Paypal and SpaceX, has drawn up plans for a “Hyperloop” system—a network of tubes that packs commuters into magnetically-accelerated capsules, reaching speeds of 760 mph. You could board a Hyperloop in downtown Los Angeles and be stepping out onto the streets of San Francisco a half-hour later.
Proponents says the system would be safe, solar powered with no waste or emissions, and unlike the luxury first-class days of Concorde, should be accessible to the masses—Musk estimates that a one-way ticket would cost around $20.
The proposition has already drawn fierce criticism, ranging from talk of it being sheer science fiction masquerading as pseudo-science, to accusations that it's a giant corporate scam—comparisons with the infamous Monorail episode of The Simpsons are rife on social networks. But Musk is nothing if not credible. His SpaceX program is, to date, the only private space agency that has launched a craft and docked with the International Space Station, winning a contract with NASA for resupplying the space station.
Time will only tell if Musk’s system is viable and if the Hyperloop will come to fruition, but for those of us who are used to cramming into planes, buses or trains for hours on end may already be anxiously awaiting the Hyperloop’s boarding call.
One of the region's major rail arterials came to a halt Jan. 25 when two freight trains derailed near Montana's Glacier National Park. The track is part of the main rail route that runs from the Pacific coast, across Idaho's pandhandle, into Montana and on to the Midwest.
One of the trains was hauling general merchandse from Seattle and the other was hauling general freight from Pasco, Wash.
A spokesman for BNSF Railway, North America's second-largest freight railroad network, told the Associated Press that two trains derailed Jan. 25, one at Belton, Mont., and another 10 miles west of Cut Bank, Mont. The line was expected to be reopened today.
Through much of Friday, some freight traffic was re-routed through southern Montana.
Amtrak—which also uses the stretch of rail on its northernmost east-west route—bused a number of passengers between Whitefish, Mont., and Shelby, Mont. while the line was closed.
UPDATE 3:20 p.m.
Traffic on Eagle Road is flowing again, as crews from Intermountain Gas quickly repaired a break in a gas main below Eagle. Construction crews hit a pipeline at the southwest corner of Eagle and Pine around noon. Intermountain said no customers were impacted by the main shutdown.
All traffic lanes were blocked for approximately three hours until Meridian police gave the all clear.
UPDATE 2:15 p.m.
A major traffic alert is expected to stretch into this evening's rush hour as emergency crews deal with a broken gas main below Eagle Road. All traffic is being re-routed away from Eagle between Fairview and Pine.
Construction crews working in the area reportedly hit a natural gas pipeline around noon at the southwest corner Eagle and Pine. Crews have identified the source of the leak but the repair is expected to take some more time. Emergency crews determined that an evacuation was unnecessary.
UPDATE 1:45 p.m.
Here's a look through the Ada County Highway District traffic cam at Eagle & Franklin, where emergency crews have blocked off all traffic on Eagle Road between Fairview and Pine because of a gas main break beneath Eagle Road.
Ada County Sheriff's officials said the repairs could take several hours to complete. Traffic is being encouraged to steer clear of the Treasure Valley's busiest road.
UPDATE 1:15 p.m.
Here's a traffic cam at the corner of Eagle and Fairview. Traditionally, this intersection is bumper-to-bumper. As you can see, Meridian Police have blocked off all lanes while crews work below Eagle to repair a broken gas line. The tie-up is expected to last "for quite some time."
ORIGINAL POST 12:30 p.m.
A gas line break under Eagle Road has brought traffic to a standstill.
Meridian's police and fire departments are on the scene and currently blocking all lanes of traffic on Eagle Road between Fairview Avenue and Pine Street. Because the break is under the road, Andrea Dearden of the Ada County Sheriff's Office said the road is expected to "be shut down for quite some time."
Valley Regional Transit has just secured $260,000 to roll out a new bus line. Route 28, one of the most ambitious projects in VRT history, will serve Southwest Boise, including the Boise Towne Square Mall, the offices of U.S. Immigration and Social Security, and more than a half-dozen schools.
But the route has some members of the Boise City Council more than a bit nervous, especially if it turns out to be successful. We'll tell you why Boise's newest bus route is the reason for much hand-wringing, with one Boise Council member calling the pilot route "cruel," coming up in this week's BW.
Southwest Airlines has grounded a number of its 737s for emergency inspections. As of late morning, no Southwest delays had been reported at Boise Airport but postponements were continuing to sweep across the airline's system. Southwest grounded 79 planes and canceled about 300 flights Saturday in the wake of an incident in which a hole ripped open in an airplane cabin of a flight from Phoenix to Sacramento Friday night.
Last weekend Alaska/Horizon Air grounded dozens of flights following a massive failure of its computer systems.
Spring break is not going as planned as hundreds of passengers have been stranded in Boise and across the Western United States.
Alaska Airlines and its Horizon Air affiliate grounded dozens of flights in the wake of a massive failure of its computer systems.
More than 60 flights had been canceled by midday, six hours after the outage began. Alaska/Horizon is promising to rebook passengers without a fee.
Horizon had to reshuffle Boise passengers bound for Portland and Seattle today. Not all flights were canceled, and an airline spokesman urged travelers to check directly with Alaska/Horizon before heading to the airport.
Don't expect to see high occupancy vehicle lanes in the Treasure Valley anytime soon. While tens of thousands of commuters face I-84 each morning and afternoon, a proposal that would allow most Idaho communities to introduce HOV lanes got stuck in a legislative traffic jam this afternoon.
The House Transportation and Defense Committee voted 10-5 to kill a bill by Boise Democrat Phyllis King to expand Idaho's ability to build HOV lanes. Currently a 2009 law allows only counties with populations of 25,000 or less to introduce HOV lanes for carpoolers and buses. King told Citydesk that she crafted her measure after hearing from her Boise constituents on a need for HOVs.
Meridian Republican Marv Hagedorn led the charge against King's motion.
"I think we're opening up a door that we don't want open," said Hagedorn with his no vote.
But Moscow Democrat Shirley Ringo countered with her experience in other cities.
"HOVs work very well in Seattle," said Ringo. "It incentivizes carpooling."
But Republican Bob Nonini of Coeur d'Alene disagreed.
"Comparing Seattle to Boise to comparing apples to oranges," said Nonini. "We should hold this bill."
And so they did, in effect killing the measure. Republicans Leon Smith of Twin Falls and Richard Wills of Glenns Ferry joined the committee's three democrats in a losing effort.