Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency:
Planning for the Future of Travel
The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is a federally designated and federally funded metropolitan planning organization for northeast Ohio. In 2018, NOACA entered into a public-private partnership with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) to share costs, knowledge, and intellectual property related to a feasibility study to connect Chicago, Cleveland, and Youngstown through a Hyperloop transportation system, which, as Tesla’s Elon Musk first envisioned in 2013, would connect cities through high-speed passenger and freight capsules travelling through evacuated tubes, much as pneumatic tubes carry bank documents between cars and tellers at drive-up windows. Although the technology still is in development, China recently awarded HTT a $1.5 billion contract to build a Hyperloop that links the City of Tongren to Mount Fanjing, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. In addition to the NOACA and HTT study, Pennsylvania’s PennDOT is spending $2 million on a study to connect Pittsburgh to Philadelphia via Hyperloop. The missing link is the connection from Youngstown to Pittsburgh. With a Foundation grant of $100,000, NOACA will add Pittsburgh to its study, which will include stakeholder and public engagement, site reconnaissance, preliminary route analysis, technical and financial feasibility, and project development costs. Although the cost to implement the project would be billions of dollars, the planning process will allow the region to compete for any new funding that may result from federal transportation and infrastructure legislation, if and when it passes.