The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s tunneling startup, might have another tunnel project on its hands. In a statement earlier this week, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo stated that he has been in talks with The Boring Co. over the last 18 months to discuss the possibility of building a tunnel linking Diridon Station and the Mineta San Jose International Airport — a distance of about 4 miles.
Addressing reporters at City Hall, the San Jose, CA mayor noted that the tunnel project could give Diridon Station a chance to “grow with the city,” particularly as Google is expected to construct a campus near Diridon in the future, which would likely bring thousands of people to the area. Apart from this, Diridon Station, the city’s main transit hub, is expected to undergo an overhaul in the future, with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) line set to extend downtown to the station itself.
Around five years ago, cost estimates for the construction of a conventional rail link connecting the Mineta San Jose International Airport to Diridon were listed at a hefty $800 million. Liccardo noted that tunnels, particularly those constructed by The Boring Company, could cost just a fraction of the $800 million estimate. That said, the mayor clarified that the project, provided that it does happen, would not be locked with the Boring Co.
“It’s not that cost effective. We’ve been looking at alternatives. This is going to be open to everybody. What we’ve been exploring is the technology,” the Liccardo said.
While the idea of another Boring Company tunnel is a compelling thought, the San Jose mayor’s idea has been met with some opposition. What is rather noteworthy is that opposition to the project appears to be based on criticisms of Elon Musk as a person, not The Boring Company’s technology itself. These concerns were outlined by Jeffrey Buchanan, a member of the worker-advocacy group Working Partnerships USA, who expressed his doubts about Elon Musk’s involvement in a statement to The East Bay Times.
“There’s a lot of important decisions the city needs to make about Diridon Station and infrastructure and investments, and it’s really important that when we look at construction of our public works and operation of our public spaces that we’re working with employers that respect employees,” he said.
Elon Musk’s Boring Company might be more of a hobby for SpaceX and Tesla CEO, but the tunneling startup has accomplished some notable breakthroughs since its founding back in 2016. When the startup unveiled its test tunnel in Hawthorne last December, for one, Elon Musk revealed that the cost of the 1.14-mile tunnel was just around $10 million, including internal infrastructure, lighting, safety systems, ventilation, and tracks. That’s substantially cheaper than larger, conventional tunnels, which could cost as much as $1 billion per mile.
The Boring Company is also working in developing a next-generation tunnel boring machine that is all-electric, making it faster, quieter, and cleaner than conventional TBMs. These innovations are expected to be utilized in the company’s upcoming projects, such as the Chicago-O’Hare high-speed transport line.