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Arrivo, a futuristic transportation company proposing levitating pods to move people and cargo faster, is not moving forward with plans to build a test facility in Denver. The rendering depicts how Arrivo's pods would travel in the Denver region on a dedicated track. (Rendering provided by Colorado Dept. of Transportation)

High-speed transit company Arrivo has ended plans to turn an unused E-470 toll station in Commerce City into a test track for speeding pods to combat traffic congestion.

Highway officials said Monday that the Los Angeles company pulled out of the project months ago.

“What I do know is that earlier this year (in mid-June), Arrivo contacted E-470 to let us know that they would not be moving forward with a test site adjacent to E-470. Since then we have not had any communication with the Arrivo project team,” E-470 Public Highway Authority spokeswoman Jessica Carson said.

The rendering depicts how Arrivo’s pods would travel in the Denver region on a dedicated track.The E-470 toll road was letting the Los Angeles company use an old toll station to build a test track. (Rendering provided by Colorado Dept. of Transportation)

Arrivo did not respond to requests for an interview. It’s unclear whether the company has shut down entirely or is just retrenching.

The project has been in limbo for months and late Friday, The Verge reported that based on two unnamed employees, half of Arrivo’s 30 or so employees have been laid off and the startup is shutting down due to a lack of funding.  

Amy Ford, with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Arrivo was still working on a feasibility study. She said the company has since signed a new real estate contract to develop a test track elsewhere in Adams County. Ford didn’t have more details.  

Arrivo’s technology proposed autonomous pods that would speed along on regular roads — but on dedicated lanes — at up to 200 mph. The pods would carry people and cargo and use magnetic levitation technology to make the vehicles float. Electric power would move them forward, according to Arrivo.

In November 2017, CDOT officials welcomed Arrivo and its founder Brogan BamBrogan to Colorado. The company planned to build a test track and facility near the old E-470 toll station next at East 96th Avenue. It said it would hire up to 200 employees and invest $10 million to $15 million in the project and a research and development center by 2020.

At the time, the company offered examples of what this would mean to Coloradans: A trip from downtown Denver to the airport would take 9 minutes instead of an hour during rush hour. It said the first commercial route could open as early as 2021.

The state’s economic development office offered $760,000 in performance-based incentives if Arrivo met its goal to hire 75 engineers over three years. Commerce City, where the Arrivo research and development center would be located, also chipped in with a business incentive package, valued at about $182,500 in tax rebates, according to The Denver Post.

Commerce City officials said Monday that they do “not have any updates or information to share about this project at this time,” said Jodi Hardee, the city’s interim communications manager, in an email. 

The Arrivo project came during a year of hyped next-generation transportation announcements for the state, including the proposed Hyperloop, a $24 billion project to use a 670-mile high-speed pod system to connect cities from Pueblo to Cheyenne, Wyoming and Vail to Denver International Airport. But neither moved very far along, at least not fast.

The Arrivo project, which seemed far-fetched to some, struggled to get off the ground, even after the company announced in July that it received a $1 billion credit line from Genertec America, part of a Chinese state-owned infrastructure developer, to finance projects anywhere in the world. That was the last update from the company.

This story was updated with comments from the Colorado Department of Transportation. This will be updated if more details become known.

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    Tamara Chuang

    Tamara writes about businesses, technology and the local economy for The Colorado Sun. She also writes the "What's Working" column, available as a free newsletter at coloradosun.com/getww. Contact her at cosun.com/heyww,...