Elon Musk's Boring Co to build high-speed airport link in Chicago

Randal Sanchez
June 15, 2018

Chicago has selected Elon Musk's Boring Co to build a $1 billion underground transit system that will whisk people from Chicago's downtown Loop district to O'Hare International Airport at 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour), the billionaire entrepreneur and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Thursday.

A company owned by Elon Musk has been chosen to dig an express route linking Chicago's downtown area to the O'Hare International Airport. No taxpayer dollars will be funding the service, the mayor said.

Musk, the founder of Space X and Tesla Inc., has high credibility in the tech world for delivering on ideas that have stymied others.

Once it's completed, the loop will be able to travel between the airport and downtown Chicago in about 12 minutes, which is "three to four times faster than existing transportation systems" between the two locations. The trip now takes 30 to 45 minutes.

If The Boring Company succeeds at its stated goal of bringing down the cost of underground tunneling to one-tenth of what it is today, the Chicago project will likely be just the beginning of a new wave of construction. He said the cuts amount to about 9 percent of the company's workforce of 40,000. The Chicago Express Loop service will operate for 20 hours per day, seven days a week, and it's expected that a skate will depart from each station every 30 seconds. The tunnels may end up belonging to the city, with a long-term lease assigned to Musk's company. And Boring's technology is good enough that officials in Los Angeles and Baltimore recently have signed off on initial projects that could lead to much bigger efforts, such as a vacuum tube "hyperloop" from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., and eventually NY.

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In Los Angeles, the Boring Company has also proposed building a wider network of tunneled transit, one that incorporates Sherman Oaks to the north and the Long Beach Airport to the southeast of downtown L.A.

So far, there have been no public demonstrations of The Boring Company's technology, with most details outlined only in conceptual sketches. A trip would cost $20 to $25.

"The Boring Co. aims to alleviate soul-destroying traffic by constructing safe, affordable, and environmentally friendly public transportation systems", company officials said.

Musk's claims that his Tesla models are the safest cars on the road have come under some scrutiny, in particular the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system. Last year, Gregory Hauser, a civil engineer at Dragados who recently managed the replacement of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct-the largest underground highway project in the US-said what The Boring Company attempting is on par with the challenge faced by SpaceX. A lengthy write-up in The Chicago Tribune says that the total cost of the project could be around $1 billion, according to unnamed sources with knowledge on the matter.

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