Image by Kevin Krejci licensed under Creative Commons.

A few hours ago, Hyperloop creator Elon Musk tweeted that he had received "verbal govt approval" for building his tube train technology from DC to New York, with stops in Baltimore and Philadelphia. That's... not how it works.

Musk started talking about building a Hyperloop— a set of vacuum tubes that would supposedly use magnets running in to move trains at nearly 800 mph— between Los Angeles and the Bay Area a few years ago, and more recently started talking about building the technology on the east coast. Let's set aside the very real reasons to think this technology is unrealistic and impractical (it is).

What sticks out about Musk's tweet is the clear ignorance of what actually goes into building infrastructure. Getting "verbal approval" is not an actual step in the planning or construction process. Just ask anyone following the Purple Line saga: you have to do all kinds of studies and analyses, getting sign off all along the way, to ever get anywhere near putting shovels in the ground.

The implication in Musk's tweet is that he got this approval from someone in the Trump administration. On that front, one of the contributors on GGWash's listserv said it best: "So ... someone who clearly understands nothing about government processes or ROW acquisition gave another person who clearly understands nothing about government processes or ROW acquisition 'verbal approval.' So exciting."