Musk's Boring Company to build high-speed system in Chicago

Andrew Cummings
June 15, 2018

"The Boring Company on Thursday confirmed a report in The Chicago Tribune that said Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office picked the company and would participate in talks over a high-speed project called the Chicago Express Loop".

Under the contract, Musk's company will design, fund, build and operate a high-speed loop connecting O'Hare Airport with downtown Chicago, the company said on its website.

Drilling for the project, pending regulatory and environmental approvals, could begin in as soon as three to four months, said Musk, who also founded and heads luxury electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc and rocket maker SpaceX.

Musk's company also would keep all revenue from ticket sales and advertising.

Musk has said he believes his Hyperloop concept could be the solution to traffic gridlock in Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major metropolitan areas.

While many details of the Chicago project are not yet available, the plan resembles one that Musk has put forth for Los Angeles, where an 11-mile tunnel could shoot passengers between the city's downtown and the Los Angeles International Airport in around eight minutes. Better, but it still takes 40 minutes to make the trip.

The Chicago Express Loop would be "100 percent privately funded", the Boring Company says. Boring gets exclusive rights to negotiate with the city for the next 12 months. 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. And the project would-use the long mothballed CTA "superstation" under Block 37 as a terminal, with the end point located near the CTA's Blue Line terminus close to O'Hare terminals but outside of the airport's security perimeter.

But in interviews with Chicago newspapers, Emanuel expressed great faith in the ability of Musk, father of the Tesla and SpaceX, to deliver at a cost of roughly $1 billion or less. The cheapest recently-constructed subway project, Madrid's Metrosur, cost almost $100 million per mile, and equivalent pricing would put the Express Loop at a minimum of $1.8 billion.

Musk announced last month that it had almost finished building its first stretch of tunnel there. Reuters has not been able to reach the city or the company for immediate comment. "Given his track record, we are taking his reputation and saying, 'This is a guy in two other transportation modes who has not failed.' That's what we're doing". A source told The Chicago Tribune that the target is in the $20 to $25 range. They are created to carry between eight and 16 passengers, or a single passenger vehicle, according to the company.

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