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Chicago, Boring Company Plan Tunnel to O'Hare

Monday, June 18, 2018

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The City of Chicago has chosen to move forward with a plan for Elon Musk’s The Boring Company to build a tunnel to transport passengers to and from O’Hare International Airport, a project that would be funded privately and, according to reports, would ring in at less than $1 billion.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the announcement Thursday (June 14), touting a system that will purportedly reduce the time of a commute from downtown Chicago to O’Hare to 12 minutes using autonomous electric vehicles similar to those proposed for the Boring Company’s planned tunnel in California.

O'Hare Station rendering
Renderings: The Boring Company

The proposed tunnel would run between a new station at O'Hare and an underground station that was built previously at Block 37 but never utilized.

The announcement comes after a request for proposals issued in March; the selection by the mayor’s office must be presented to city council after contract details are negotiated.

The Route

The Boring Company tunnel would run between a new station to be built at O’Hare and an underground terminal at Block 37 that was built as part of a prior rail tunnel project that was never finished.

The Boring Company says it can finance the construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnel system and charge less than the RFP’s requirement, with a ride predicted to cost less than taxi or ride-share services currently do. The Boring Company says the fares would be less than half a current taxi ride.

O'Hare skate

The concrete tunnel would convey autonomous electric “skate” vehicles like those described in other Boring Company project plans; the vehicles would go 125 -150 mph and carry 8-16 passengers each.

A source told the Chicago Tribune that the company believes it can build the tunnel for under $1 billion.

The concrete tunnel would convey autonomous electric “skate” vehicles like those described in other Boring Company project plans; the vehicles would go 125-150 mph and carry 8-16 passengers each. Alternatively, a skate could accommodate one passenger car.

California Drilling

The Boring Company has repeatedly said that it can build tunnels for a fraction of the cost of other recent boring projects, and can do so with no surface vibrations or noise. The company hasn’t been put to the test on a large-scale project yet, however. While the company has been drilling test tunnels on its property in California, neighbors have sued to stop construction of a proof-of-concept without a full environmental review.

The California proposal also leaves room in that tunnel for a possible Hyperloop, the reduced-pressure tube that would send a passenger-carrying pod at more than 700 mph. The highest speed a Hyperloop pod has reached in testing so far is 240 mph.

Hyperloop, designed for longer distances, is not part of the Chicago tunnel plan.


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

Comment from Frederick Connan, (6/18/2018, 10:54 AM)

sounds really great to lower traffic on interstates

Comment from Tony Rangus, (6/18/2018, 10:57 AM)

Well citizens of Chicago, get prepared to absorb all the costs, all the disruptions, all the "oopsies" etc.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (6/27/2018, 12:08 PM)

Tony, did you miss the part of the article where the construction, maintenance and operation is going to be privately funded?

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