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Before giving column inches to two (!) pieces calling for a multimillion-dollar study of a fictional transportation technology called "hyperloop," the Star Tribune opinion editors ought to have done about five minutes of googling ("When a hyperloop is more than a hyperloop," Opinion Exchange, and "Let's mull a 'hyperloop' future," editorial, Feb. 9). Or better yet, called up a single independent transportation expert.

Here are the facts: (1) there is no operating hyperloop anywhere in the world, (2) the main company trying to build one recently ceased operations after failing to build a prototype, (3) other cities and states have already been scammed out of millions on hyperloop studies, which have all gone nowhere, (4) there are major technical and operational challenges to the hyperloop concept that nobody has solved.

It's surreal to see this extremely dead idea suddenly taken seriously again, long after everyone in the industry assumed nobody was falling for this grift anymore. Not a single cent should be spent on this nonsense.

Alex Schieferdecker, Minneapolis


I'm a resident of St. Paul and a member of many grassroots organizations that are all working to greatly reduce the use of carbon fuel in St. Paul and support the transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources wherever we can.

Regarding the recent news article, commentary and editorial about the hyperloop feasibility study requested by Global Wellness Connections, the cities of Bloomington and Rochester and the University of Minnesota: The hyperloop, "a carbon-neutral transportation system powered by renewable resources," aligns perfectly with what we, the citizens of St. Paul, are working for to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Right here in St. Paul, we are seeing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Warmer weather in the winters (this one especially) is encouraging the spread of insect-borne diseases due to the lack of winter's cold killing off insects. A consequence is that tick season is starting in March, according to recent warnings by the Department of Natural Resources. Neighborhood trees, which could offer necessary canopy to block sunlight, are stressed due to the increasing summer heat. Spring flooding, due to extreme shifts in precipitation, is costing the city's taxpayers millions of dollars to repair areas of downtown. Traffic corridors, especially around Interstate 94, are causing increased rates of asthma and cancer from the airborne particles created by carbon-burning vehicles.

A hyperloop would significantly reduce burning carbon, and it would put Minnesota on the map. A system like this would put us on the list of places that are actively working to make lives better and healthier for everyone, and it is consistent with our goal to be a carbon-neutral state by 2040.

I want to live in a place that is taking the bold moves to address climate change as the crisis that it is. That Minnesota is considering building a system like a hyperloop makes me proud to live and work in Minnesota.

Aaron Kerr, St. Paul


In what world does it make sense for the Metropolitan Council to fund a $2.5 million "feasibility study" for a hyperloop transportation system connecting the Twin Cities to Rochester when the company providing the underlying hyperloop technology is still developing that technology? Seems more like a fool's errand than an actual feasibility study. Perhaps a better idea and one that actually fits within the Met Council's seven-county jurisdiction is to do a feasibility study on moving the Mayo Clinic from Rochester to downtown Minneapolis. That not only meets the goals of Global Wellness Connections, which is requesting the $2.5 million, but would also bring thousands of non-loser workers to downtown Minneapolis, breathe life into the nearly empty existing light-rail system and justify the massively over-budget and behind-schedule Southwest light-rail line — for which there was also a "feasibility study."

Jerry Johnson, Eden Prairie


Regarding the editorial, "Let's mull a 'hyperloop' future," it all sounds so exciting, practical in many ways, and adventurous. Just 15 minutes inside the tube going 700 miles an hour from the Twin Cities to Rochester. You go first!

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover


Less boldness, please

Jon Nelson's commentary on "10 bold initiatives for Minnesota" in this legislative session (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 13) proves that he hasn't lived in Minnesota very long or that he has a very short memory. In the last decade or two I cannot think of one major undertaking by the state that has delivered on its goals in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Let's see: MNLARS took 10 years of planning and implementing at a cost of nearly $100 million and was a huge failure that took years and another $50 million to fix; the Southwest light rail was originally projected to cost $1.25 billion and completed by 2018, and is now projected to cost $2.86 billion and start operating in 2027; the Feeding Our Future initiative has cost hundreds of millions with 70 fraud indictments so far; not to mention the more than $700 million price tag on renovating the state legislative building, and in one legislative session spending a $17 billion surplus and putting the state into a position to have to raise taxes to balance the budget.

Yet Olson still believes that the state can modernize the Minnesota tax collection system, that it can become a zero-waste society, that it should create a Bank of Minnesota and that guaranteed income really works.

If he is serious, I suggest he hire Elon Musk, who proved to NASA that he could build a reusable rocket at a fraction of the price NASA was willing to pay.

Scott Sayer, Medina


Jon Olson's essay, "10 bold initiatives for Minnesota," is valuable for two reasons. First, all of the 10 initiatives are worthy of consideration. Each of us can identify favorites but none lack merit, and some are both exemplary and just plain common sense. The second element of value is that he challenges the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Tim Walz to overcome enormous challenges to implementing out-of-the-box proposals.

The primary obstacle is political partisanship. The 2023 legislative session passed what many considered bold legislation because of the Democratic trifecta. Some view these initiatives as long overdue and others have a more negative perspective. What is clear is that far less would have been accomplished if Democrats had not controlled the Legislature and the governorship. It should not be this way.

While our country appears to be deeply divided on some issues, I believe that the electorate generally is less partisan than the politicians who represent us. Our two-party system has morphed into political engagement based primarily on acquisition and retention of power. Each party caucus demands loyalty and that is why most major legislative proposals are passed or defeated on strict party-line votes. Review the voting records of your House and Senate representatives in St. Paul (and Washington!) and see how many times they actually crossed the aisle. They talk up bipartisanship but their actions bely their words.

What needs to change is that politicians need to act less on political expediency and more on promoting the welfare of all citizens. This means a willingness to deviate from party orthodoxy. It also means being profiles in courage instead of remaining in the chorus of sycophants.

Do Olson's bold initiatives have a chance as long as our political landscape is dominated by only two parties? Not likely, but that is another conversation. However, we can hold individual politicians accountable. Engage anyone who asks for your vote and make your expectations crystal clear.

Phil George, Lakeville