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Boring Co. LA Tunnel Faces Lawsuit

Thursday, May 17, 2018

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Plans for billionaire Elon Musk's Boring Company Los Angeles proof-of-concept tunnel—slated to run 2.7 miles—have hit rocky ground, as two local neighborhood groups have filed a lawsuit against the startup’s exemption from environmental review.

The Brentwood Residents Coalition and the Sunset Coalition, both Westside organizations, have alleged in the lawsuit that the local government violated state law in exempting the tunnel from environmental review, which falls under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Boring Company Tunneling

According to Musk’s design, announced in May 2017, tunnels would transport cars on an electric skate, and that there would even be room for a Hyperloop—a reduced pressure tube that could shoot pod-like vehicles faster than an airliner. Individual cars would be lowered from regular roads to tunnels by parking on what Musk calls a “car skate,” which essentially functions like an elevator and lowers the car into the tunnel. From there, the skate’s speed could exceed 130 miles per hour.

The Boring Company

Plans for billionaire the Boring Company Los Angeles proof-of-concept tunnel—slated to run 2.7 miles—has hit rocky ground, as two local neighborhood groups have filed a lawsuit against the startup’s exemption from environmental review.

Hawthorne, California, authorities approved the first test tunnel in August, with parallel transportation tunnels being dug in Maryland starting in January.

Environmental Review Exemption

The core of the organizations’ argument is in the allegation that the proof-of-concept tunnel is part of a larger system that will eventually be used for public transportation. According to the lawsuit, state law prevents agencies from giving “piecemeal” approval for one element of a larger construction project.

In April, Los Angeles City Council’s public works committee agreed to exempt the tunnel from environmental analysis. Traditionally, environmental review can add months or years to a project’s timeline. The movement for exemption still needs a full council vote, however.

The lawsuit is also challenging a March decision by a city commission to allow the hauling of 80,000 cubic yards of dirt from the Westside tunnel, which was also determined to be exempt from environmental review. (The Boring Company recently announced that it would use dredged-up dirt to make bricks for lost-cost housing.)

University of Southern California professor Jim Moore told The Los Angeles Times that environmental review could help address fears over tunneling in an earthquake-prone area, which could damage homes or pose a threat to public safety. Without that information, the city would be exposing itself to lawsuits.

Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole also opposed the Boring Company’s tunneling project.

“We’ll have people stuck in traffic on the surface, and this miracle fast lane underground for the people who can afford it. It’ll be toll lanes on steroids,” Cole said.

The Boring Company is hosting an information session on Thursday (May 17), which will be livestreamed online at 7 p.m. PST.


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Tunnel

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