Elon Musk Unveils the First LA-area Tunnel, Promising an Era in High-speed Transportation


Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Tuesday gave a sneak peak of the first tunnel completed by his Boring Company’s underground transit venture, two years after he launched it to ease the traffic congestion in Los Angeles.

As reported in Reuters, the grand opening did not include free rides, contrary to some of his hype few months ago. In a 30-minute live webcast presentation, Musk represented the new 1.14-mile-long tunnel segment as a breakthrough in inexpensive, fast-digging technology, pioneered by the Boring Company.

The flamboyant billionaire has touted the proof-of-concept tunnel as an initial step toward building a high-speed subterranean tube capable of whisking vehicles up to 150 miles per hour underneath what he calls ‘soul-destroying traffic’ of the second-largest city in the United States. Though, it has a long way to go.

The new tunnel was dug along a path that runs not through Los Angeles, but below one of the main streets of Hawthorne, California, where one end of the tunnel starts in the parking lot owned by Musk’s SpaceX rocket firm. Musk, who founded the Boring Company, launched his blitz into the public transit after complaining about Los Angeles traffic on Twitter in December 2016 and promised to ‘build a boring machine and just start digging’ as a remedy.

In May, the company posted a fast-forward video of the Hawthorne tunnel’s interior as a preview. It was shot by a camera travelling the length of the cylindrical passageway, measuring up to 12 feet in diameter.

On Tuesday, Musk estimated the total price tag of the completed segment at nearly $10 million including the excavation cost, internal infrastructure, a track, ventilation, lighting, safety systems, and communications. In comparison, Musk said that excavating a mile of tunnel by traditional architectural methods would cost around $1 billion and take three to six months to complete.

According to Reuters’ news, the billionaire boasted of multiple cost-cutting innovations including extra-power boring machines, digging narrower tunnels, accelerating dirt removal, and simultaneous excavation and reinforcement. If successful, the Hawthorne is envisioned to eventually connect with network of other tunnels, yet to be built.

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Rohit Bhisey

Rohit Bhisey

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