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Musk Seeks to Expand Las Vegas Tunnel Project

Thursday, January 16, 2020

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Earlier this week, President Steve Davis of tunneling company The Boring Co. (TBC)—owned by Elon Musk—announced the possibility for additional underground transit systems throughout the Las Vegas resort corridor, should the current convention center tunnel prove to be a success.

The news arrives just weeks after Musk tweeted that the commercial tunnel hoped be operational sometime this year.

Las Vegas Tunnel History

In March 2019, TBC was approved by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority’s board of directors for the construction of an underground express tunnel connecting downtown Las Vegas, the city’s convention center, airport and other points of interest.

The LVCVA selected TBC as one of the firms to enter exclusive contract negotiations to design, construct and operate a Loop system for the Las Vegas Convention Center. The loop is to provide a fast and convenient transportation option for convention and trade show attendees on the LVCC campus.

According to TBC, a typical walk from the New Exhibit Hall to the existing North/Central Hall averages about 15 minutes; the same trip through the LVCC loop will take approximately one minute. Once inside an AEV, which are Tesla Model X and Model 3 vehicles, the modified chassis will be able to transport up to 16 passengers with sitting and standing room at 155 miles per hour.

The LVCVA hopes to allow 4,400-11,000 people to use the system per hour. However, that kind of volume would depend on the station sizes and number of vehicles, estimated to be between 90 and 140, within the tunnels.

By May, a $48.6 million contract with TBC was approved for the construction on the LVCC Loop. Clocking in at a fraction of the $215 million bid for an elevated rail system, although, more funding was slated to present itself as TBC continued to hit milestones: $2.5 million for excavation of the first station and $3.2 million for completing the first 100 feet of tunnel. All system infrastructure will have to be built on payments that total less than $14 million. If the system cannot support full passenger capacity during the first year and a half of operation, TBC faces a penalty of $300,000 per event, which caps at $4.5 million.

In October, construction work on the project officially entered operation with reports indicating that the boring machine would likely emerge from the other side of its work in January, assuming there were no delays.

Currently, the loop is slated to be operational in time for the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021 and will cost a total of $52.5 million.

What’s Happening Now

Regarding the project’s deadline, a spokesperson for LVCVA told CNN Business that Musk’s tweet about the 2020 operational goal was true to what had previously been announced in November, and that the project would be complete in time for the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show.

As for TBC’s expansion of projects in Las Vegas, ENR Southwest reports that the company looks at the convention center tunnel as the first of many possible projects to take place, adding that even during construction, the tunneling work hasn’t disrupted any surface activity.

“We were tunneling under the main hall of the convention center,” Davis said, “and nobody had any idea we were there.”

With project deadlines on schedule, the project will have to deliver on its success predictions, reported the TBC president. Once profitable, Davis envisions that tourism industry stakeholders will be ready to move forward with ongoing talks about expanding the system from the airport to the Strip and into downtown.

“We’re actually very impatient and anxious to expand quickly. To be frank, our focus is here,” said Davis.

Other convention centers, resorts and the Allegiant Stadium are also forecasted to increase visitor volume and traffic congestion, making them possible locations to expand as well.

“We’re always in discussion with everyone who might be interested,” he told the Nevada chapter of the American Public Works Association. “We’ll have lots of talks … and if it goes well, everything’s teed up.”

   

Tagged categories: Contractors; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail; Transportation; Tunnel

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