Elon Musk and his tunnel construction company, The Boring Company, unveiled the first section of its loop system in Hawthorne, California.
A billionaire entrepreneur who has never feared placing big bets, Elon Musk couldn’t have found a more fitting city for his tunneling outfit’s next project: Las Vegas.
Musk’s The Boring Co. is being recommended to build a mile-long people mover system underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center, it was announced Wednesday. A pair of tunnels, costing $35 million to $55 million, would speed conventioneers to different stations in Tesla electric vehicles or 16-passenger pods.
“I think it provides a great experience for our customers and has the opportunity (to be) an attraction in and of itself,” said Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. He is making the recommendation to the center’s board.
The project would be due to be completed by 2021 as part of a $1.4 billion expansion of the convention center. Both Boring Co. and LVCVA officials hope that if the project is a success, it could lead to more tunnels around the city to relieve traffic congestion on the Las Vegas Strip or provide an alternative route to McCarran International Airport.
While The Boring Co. has so far completed a single project – a test tunnel starting on the SpaceX rocket factory site in Hawthorne, California – Hill said he is recommending the fledgling firm over five other competitors because it has the ability to innovate and complete the project on schedule. He said they toured SpaceX, which Musk also along with Tesla, in reviewing the Boring Co. plan.
When “you see they are sending spaceships up to meet the International Space Station, (it) gives you confidence they can produce a tunnel,” Hill said. And because it’s underground, unlike rival plans that were submitted, The Boring Co. proposal will cause minimal disruption.
Hill said a people mover system is necessary because the convention center, already cavernous, will span about 200 acres after the five-year expansion. It hosts more than a million conventioneers a year.
The Hawthorne tunnel, which was shown off to the media in December, was designed for private electric cars to drive through it as a way of avoiding surface traffic. But the Las Vegas tunnel would be different, with three of four stations where conventioneers could get into cars to go from station to station.
Steve Davis, president of The Boring Co., said the convention center tunnels would be built using the company’s faster drilling techniques. Instead of just being hauled away, dirt from the site would be turned into bricks that can be sold or given away.
He said he also likes that the tunneling will be part of a larger project with a definitive timeline: “We are thrilled to be part of that and it makes the timeline very, very clear,” he said.
The Boring Co. has proposed building transit tunnels between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, but the project is still seeking permits, he said.
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