Federal lawmakers question Maryland Gov. Hogan on Hyperloop permit

Five members of Maryland’s congressional delegation are pressing Gov. Larry Hogan to provide more information about the high-speed transit system called Hyperloop that entrepreneur Elon Musk wants to build between Baltimore and Washington.

Maryland officials in October granted permission for Musk’s company, The Boring Co., to dig tunnels under the Baltimore-Washington Parkway even as fundamental questions remain about federal and local oversight of the multibillion-dollar project.

“While the Hyperloop is an exciting project that has the potential to transform transportation along the entire U.S. East Coast, it is also a project that would utilize a wholly new technology and could have significant impacts on our constituents,” the lawmakers — all Democrats — wrote in their letter.

The federal lawmakers asked the Hogan administration to respond to 15 questions by April 20, including why the state granted a routine utility permit to begin work on a project that Musk’s company describes as an “ultra high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported on autonomous electric pods traveling at 600-plus miles per hour.”

The lawmakers asked whether the state conducted any environmental review before granting the permit and whether it performed any engineering analysis to ensure that the tunneling does not compromise the highway.

The Maryland attorney general’s office also has questioned the state’s use of a utility permit in January.

Erin Henson, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Transportation, dismissed those concerns.

“We are not sure why the congressional members are asking about approvals from the federal government that they oversee or the reason for questions about I-295 that has no connection to the loop project,” Henson said in a statement. “Maryland is open to innovation, and we hope they’ll join us.”

City officials in Washington, D.C., also granted Musk’s company a building permit last year for a site along New York Avenue.

It’s not clear that any work has begun on the project. The company only last week revealed the proposed route for the Hyperloop between Washington and Baltimore.

The letter is signed by Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen as well as Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore, John Sarbanes of Baltimore County, Anthony G. Brown of Prince George’s County and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia.

john.fritze@baltsun.com

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