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Elon Musk’s Boring Co. takes aim at fighting LA traffic

The Boring Company’s test tunnel that adjoins SpaceX and Tesla’s Design Center in Hawthorne, CA is really starting to take shape. Serial tech entrepreneur Elon Musk posted an image on Saturday that shows a long run of track, pipes and reinforcement inside a tunnel. In addition to providing a first look at a 500 feet stretch of The Boring Company’s test tunnel, Musk also revealed plans for the company’s first route that’s expected to begin from LAX airport and run parallel to major Los Angeles corridor, Interstate 405, and north to U.S. Route 101.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Musk would choose this section as the company’s first project. After all, his dealing with constant soul-crushing traffic along a path of travel that’s a consistent winner of “America’s worst freeways” was the genesis for The Boring Company.

“First route will go roughly parallel to the 405 from LAX to 101, with on/offramps every mile or so. It will work like a fast freeway, where electric skates carrying vehicles and people on pods on the main artery travel at up to 150mph, and the skates switch to side tunnels to exit and enter.” says Musk.

Vehicles entering and exiting the tunnels would be helped by a car elevator, something Musk first demonstrated in July after posting a video of a Tesla Model S being lowered into the tunnel entrance. The use of side tunnels for exit and entry will allow the main tunnel to keep a consistent, high speed flow of traffic and make travel more efficient. It’s a key differentiator from traditional subway systems that often experience frequent stop-and-go travel. “There is a big difference compared to subways that stop at every stop, whether you’re getting off or not.” said Musk after sharing an image of the test tunnel.

In addition to the tunnel project taking place in Los Angeles, The Boring Company has recently been given permission by Maryland officials to dig a 10.1-mile tunnel beneath state-owned land that looks to connect Baltimore with Washington, DC. “Incredibly excited to announce our administration’s support for The Boring Company to bring rapid electric transportation technology to Maryland, connecting Baltimore City and Washington D.C.” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on October 19 in a Facebook post.

The Boring Company tunneling machine spotted in front of SpaceX in April 2017

As The Boring Company continues to build its 2-mile test tunnel that’s located a stone’s throw away from LAX, it’s expected that the team will also continue to learn techniques that will allow them to maximize efficiencies with tunnel digging and moving earth. Musk revealed at TED 2017, in a sit-down with head curator Chris Anderson, that The Boring Company plans to cut tunnel diameter by 50% for passenger vehicles and reduce the cross sectional area of tunnels by a factor of four. Building a smaller tunnel that’s just large enough for a vehicle will cut 75% of the time associated with digging and introduce a significant cost reduction.

Unlike traditional tunnel boring machines that dig slowly and incrementally, as it stops so that a team can build tunnel reinforcements, Musk’s GoDot digger looks to install tunnel walls continuously. Being able to build reinforcements into a tunnel while it’s being dug eliminates the need to pause operations, thus speeding up the entire process.

Though Musk’s vision to build a high speed underground transportation system in major cities might face opposition from local regulators at first, visibility of progress being made by The Boring Company in Los Angeles and beyond, and ultimately the cost savings involved with such projects will lead to the eureka moment for government officials worldwide.

Why wait nine years on a $1.5 billion “beach shuttle” when you can do it in less than half the time and at a fraction of the cost? Eureka.

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. takes aim at fighting LA traffic

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