Elon Musk’s The Boring Company has nearly finished the first section of its tunnel network underneath Los Angeles. Captioning a video released on May the 10th, showing footage of the soon to be completed tunnel and some of the people working on it, through Musk’s personal Instagram account, The Boring Company founder stated:
First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done! Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months.
The tunnel is an expansion to the first test of the digging equipment and techniques used, which produced a 100-metre passage starting at the SpaceX carpark in Hawthorne, LA. This has now been extended by around two miles, stretching toward Los Angeles International Airport, LAX.
It is only the proof of concept of a much more extensive network of tunnels below the metropolis. Construction began in late October of 2017, but missed its intended completion date, of ‘3-4 months’ according to Musk, by almost a quarter of a year. The tunnelling startup is going full steam ahead though, and the firm wants to expand the network beneath LA. Things are being held up by planning boards, and the project needs an exemption from California’s Environmental Quality Act.
The Boring Company, which famously sold flamethrowers on its website earlier this year, hopes to reduce the cost of tunnel excavation. First, by reducing the diameter of tunnels from 28 to 14 feet. This would be made possible by transporting people on electric skates, rather than in road vehicles. Tunnel boring is a very slow process too, which increases the cost. Godot, the tunnel boring machine working in LA, is named after the character from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot who never turns up.
LA is not the only place where Musk, who also heads up electric car manufacturer Tesla and commercial space company SpaceX, is planning on digging. They are planning on a 35-mile route between Baltimore and Washington DC on the east coast of America. This will be part of the Loop system, express underground tracks on which passengers travel on underground skates. There are plans for much larger Hyperloop systems too, which would see passengers enter pressurised cabins as they are ferried through a vacuum tube, which would reduce air friction, allowing very high speeds to be reached. They are also putting in a proposal to build an express connection between O’Hare airport and downtown Chicago.
Image by Jochen Teufel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7156384