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Keller @ Large: Hyperloop Scheme Is Big Dig On Steroids

BOSTON (CBS) - A couple of stories coincided this week to remind me of one of the most appalling news stories I've ever covered – the poorly planned and vetted, incompetently-engineered, grossly overpriced Big Dig.

The first story was the bizarre claim by high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk that he has "verbal approval" to build an underground network of so-called "hyperloops" through which commuters can speed between cities in a fraction of the normal travel time, linking New York, Philly, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Promised travel time from NY to DC – 29 minutes.

When I sat down to write this no one had yet determined what "approval" Musk is talking about, and chances are it's just another figment of his fertile imagination.

There is no such thing as "verbal approval" of a massive infrastructure project.

And while I don't want to say this deep-underground tunnel system couldn't be built, I question the notion that Musk has a clue how to do it or any idea of what it would cost.

Two tunnels through downtown Boston cost around $27 billion; is he expecting the taxpayers to pony up the dough for another Big Dig on mega-steroids?

Musk's folly reminded me of one of Sen. John McCain's greatest moments 17 years ago, an oversight hearing into the Big Dig debacle in which he picked apart the efforts of Big Dig apologists to put lipstick on that pig, noting the "complete and utter failure of the parties involved."

We can only hope that McCain and others like him will apply similar skepticism to those touting this hyperloop scheme.

The Big Dig was chump change compared with this.

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