Elon Musk to Build New Las Vegas Tunnel

MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2019


Recently, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority’s board of directors approved Elon Musk’s Boring Company for the construction of an underground express tunnel connecting downtown Las Vegas, the city’s convention center, airport and other points of interest.

The proposed transit line involves digging a 2-mile tunnel that will cost about $35-55 million.

Boring Tunnel Projects

The Boring Company completed its first test tunnel in November 2018, located in Hawthorne, California, for $10 million. The tunnel is a 1.14-mile-long test track that began at the parking lot of Space X’s Hawthorne, Los Angeles, headquarters, and ended at what will eventually become O’Leary Station.

The tunnel is expected to transport passengers 155 miles per hour. Once a vehicle is lowered onto an electric skate by elevator, it will be entered into Hyperloop—a reduced pressure tube that could shoot pod-like vehicles faster than an airliner.

From the Los Angeles Metro to the Dodger Stadium, Musk and Boring are also working to complete a 3.6-mile-long one-way structure. A high-speed transport tunnel connecting the Chicago-O’Hare airport and downtown is also in the works. Future plans for Boring even include plans for a tunnel between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in New York, Pennsylvania and Silicon Valley as well.

And, at the beginning of this month, The Boring Company announced that the company’s next-generation tunnel borer, Line-Storm, could be active within the next month or shortly after. The new machines have been used to complete the mentioned city transportation projects. This tunneling method is reportedly roughly 10 times cheaper than traditional tunnel construction.

The Pitch

The LVCVA selected Boring Company as one of the firms to enter into 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 The Boring Company, 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 a 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.

“We hope to explore the opportunity to move this kind of technology into the entire city,” said Steven Hill, CEO of LVCVA.

“We’ve long recognized that as Las Vegas continues to grow, we have some chip points in moving people. There’s not room on the surface really to add lanes on the road every place we need them, particularly up and down the Strip and to the airport. So being underground is something that is very attractive.”

With a price tag only a fraction of their competitors, The Boring Company prides itself on significantly reducing the cost of tunneling, which can run as much as $1 billion per mile.

Acceptance

On March 12, the LVCVA approved the company's proposal, although there is still much to be done. Moving forward, The Boring Company will have to work with LVCVA on the specifics of the tunnel’s design, construction and operational plans. A meeting has been planned for this June for contract approval.

Once approved, the company goal is for the system to debut by January 2021, before the Consumer Electronics Show. Although, Musk believes the tunnel could be operational by the end of the year, according to Twitter:

History and political headwinds suggest that the tunnel’s construction might not run as smooth as Musk hopes, however. But Las Vegas has confidence in the startup and is “committed to innovation” for what could possibly be Boring’s first commercial undertaking. Unlike some of its other high-profile projects, Hill doesn’t expect permitting processes in the Las Vegas area will put the project behind schedule.

"It's really innovative. I think it will be an attraction in and of itself, frankly," said Hill.

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

Additional anticipations for the project include optional routes for the tunnel to expand and connect to the Las Vegas Strip, McCarran International Airport and the city’s downtown area. A magnified expansion could be the solution to congestion affecting these areas.

Steve Davis, president of The Boring Company, concluded: “If the community likes it, and they come, they ride at the convention center and they say 'This is great. It's comfortable. It's fast. It's awesome.' Well, there are other places it can go.”

   

Tagged categories: Contractors; Contracts; Government contracts; Industrial Contractors; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Tunnel

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