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Las Vegas Tunnel Completes Construction

Thursday, April 15, 2021

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Earlier this month, officials working on the new underground express transportation system beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center announced that construction on the project had reached completion.

“Pretty big day for us, pretty big day for Las Vegas,” said Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority.

Hill reported that completion of “The Loop” comes after years of the LVCVA working alongside Elon Musk’s The Boring Company.

Anticipated Opening

Once operational, the LVCVA has contracted with TBC to operate the system. According to Hill, while The Loop is capable of handling more than 62 Tesla vehicles, it will only be operating 62 cars to start.

The LVCVA hopes to allow 4,400 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. 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.

In the near future, however, The Loop hopes to use self-driving Teslas.

Previously, officials estimated that The Loop would be operational by January of this year. Although a little behind schedule, the transportation tunnel plans to make its debut at the World of Concrete, taking place from June 8-10.

Just last month, it was confirmed that Informa Markets’ World of Concrete would be held in person, making it the first large-scale show to return to the Las Vegas Convention Center. While the announcement still technically hinges on what the organization is calling “the imminent approval” of the Large Gathering Certification by the Department of Business and industry, officials are also calling the event the first large-scale trade show to return to the U.S. market since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was reportedly made possible by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s decision to increase large gathering capacity to 50% as well as the partnership between the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Informa Markets.

The organizations do note though, that Nevada’s new directive requires meetings, trade show and entertainment venues to certify through the state’s Department of Business and Industry that they will follow the state’s health and safety requirements and protocols and adhere to the prevention principles that have remained consistent: maintain safe social distancing, wear face coverings and practice good hygiene and cleaning measures.

Las Vegas Tunnel History

In March 2019, TBC was approved by the LVCVA’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.

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.

However, if the system cannot support full passenger capacity during the first year and a half of operation, TBC will face 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.

In January, TBC’s President Steve Davis 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. 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.

Work on the aboveground stations for the underground rail transportation also began last month. The stations are reported to include elevator and escalator access to the tunnels, underground stations, pedestrian protection from the elements, video surveillance, WiFi and vehicle tunnel access points.

The following month, TBC announced that it had finished boring the first tunnel for the project, by the convention center’s West Hall. Completed in only three months’ time, the boring machine was then disassembled and transported by trucks to the convention center’s South Hall, where it was reassembled and began boring the second and final one-mile-long tunnel in the $52.5 million project.

In April, the project was reportedly on track, despite a $79 million budget cut to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and new COVID-19 protocols. In addition to the update, LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill said that the people-mover’s second mile-long tunnel was “making exceptionally good progress” and was actually ahead of schedule as crews had also begun excavating the underground station.

By June, the Boring Company announced that it had completed its second tunnel. In the next steps of the Convention Center Loop project, crews were slated to start paving the roadways within the tunnels, with paving already having begun in Tunnel 1. Tunnel 2 pavement work was expected to kick off in the upcoming weeks. The tunnel build-out will also require the installation of lights, electrical, communication, fire, and life safety systems.

In December, the Las Vegas City Planning Commission approved TBC’s plans to expand its network of tunnels and add several stops under the city. However, a final vote on the project’s expansion was slated to take place sometime later that month.

If approved, the downtown tunnel would begin at LVCC, run through the Las Vegas Boulevard, connect to Ogden, and lead back into Main Street, but also includes stops at McCarran International Airport, Allegiant Stadium and a variety of casinos.

“The entire system up and down the resort corridor has been submitted, that is into the city and into the county,” Hill said. “That kind of opportunity allows our visitors, our community to completely have a different experience.” 

   

Tagged categories: Completed projects; Conferences; Convention Centers; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Public Transit; Transportation; Tunnel; World of Concrete

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