First Tunnel Complete at Vegas Convention Center
Earlier this month, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company reported that the first of two tunnels for the Las Vegas Convention Center’s future underground express transportation system had been completed.
The tunnel is roughly one mile long and 40 feet below the surface. The work took three months to complete.
Las Vegas Tunnel History
In March 2019, The Boring Co. 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.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN | Just days ago @elonmusk's boring machine was tunneling about 40ft below the LV Convention Center expansion. The pieces are now above ground and being trucked back to the LVCC South Hall where excavation will soon begin on a parallel tunnel. #OnlyVegas pic.twitter.com/mO36rtcSRD— LVCVA Impact (@LVCVAImpact) February 19, 2020
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. 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.
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.
Last month, 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.
What’s Happening Now
Finishing by the convention center’s West Hall, the LVCVA tweeted a video on Feb. 14, showing the tunnel excavator emerging from the ground at the end of the first tunnel.
In the next steps of the project, the boring machine will be dissembled and transported by trucks to the convention center’s South Hall, where it will be reassembled and begin boring the second and final one-mile-long tunnel in the $52.5 million project.
According to reports, the project is still slated for a January 2021 completion, where it intends to be operational during the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
Additionally, Jackie Dennis, Director of Communications for the LVCVA has stated that TBC is also working with local governments for the approval of an additional tunnel under the Las Vegas Strip. After making connections to the McCarran International Airport, downtown Las Vegas, and more, the company hopes to build a tunnel connecting Las Vegas with Los Angeles.