Elon Musk says LA-area test tunnel almost complete (Update)

May 12, 2018
Elon Musk, Tesla Factory, Fremont (CA, USA) in 2011. Credit: CC BY 2.0

Billionaire Elon Musk says he's almost completed a tunnel under a Los Angeles suburb to test a novel transportation system that would scoot commuters underground on electric sleds called skates.

Musk tweeted Thursday that, pending regulatory approvals, free rides will be offered to the public in a few months. He also posted an Instagram video of the interior of the tunnel.

Last year, the Hawthorne City Council approved an approximately 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) test tunnel from Musk's SpaceX rocket plant to a point east of Los Angeles International Airport.

Musk has described a system in which vehicles would descend via elevators into tunnels and move on electrically powered platforms called skates. He envisions multiple levels of tunnels to escape congestion that plagues surface traffic systems.

"As mentioned in prior posts, once fully operational (demo system rides will be free), the system will always give priority to pods for pedestrians & cyclists for less than the cost of a bus ticket," Musk tweeted.

Musk's tunneling operation, called The Boring Co., is currently seeking approval to push into the city of Los Angeles, which requires separate authorization. So far, a committee of the City Council has agreed that the project should be exempt from environmental review.

Musk suddenly added tunneling ideas to his SpaceX rocketry and Tesla electric car endeavors more than a year ago.

A few weeks after tweeting "Traffic is driving me nuts" and "am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging," he said in January 2017 that tunnel was about to get underway. He acquired a tunnel-boring machine that had been used in a San Francisco Bay Area project and put it down a shaft in a parking lot at the SpaceX facility in Hawthorne.

He has also tweeted about a vision for a that would stretch along the Interstate 405 corridor from LAX to U.S. Highway 101 in the San Fernando Valley, a span of about 17 miles (27 kilometers). It's among the most notorious examples of what Musk has called "soul-destroying" Los Angeles traffic.

Musk has also advocated another transportation concept called the "hyperloop," a network of nearly airless tubes that would speed special capsules over long distances at up to 750 mph (1,200) kph), using a thin cushion of air, magnetism and solar power.

On Friday, SpaceX successfully launched Bangladesh's first satellite into orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida, using an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket designed for dozens of repeat flights including back-to-back, same-day launches. The rocket's first stage was successfully recovered, landing upright on a platform floating in the Atlantic Ocean.

Explore further: Elon Musk posts video of 'electric sled' for tunnel travel

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7 comments

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Kruleworlder
3 / 5 (2) May 13, 2018
"should be exempt from environmental review"
why does that sound REALLY bad?
Whydening Gyre
3.5 / 5 (4) May 13, 2018
"should be exempt from environmental review"
why does that sound REALLY bad?

Sounds rather Trumpian...
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) May 13, 2018
"should be exempt from environmental review"
why does that sound REALLY bad?

It's not that unusual. You get the same thing when someone wants to build a new kindergarten or anything that does not - in any obvious way - impact the environment negatively. I guess they can't see how digging a tunnel would have any negative effect on the flora or fauna around (and I can't really see it either. If anything I'd expect a postive effect from taking surface ICE traffic and moving it to the city without burning any fossil fuels or putting any other kind of particulates into the environment along the way) .
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) May 13, 2018
I guess they can't see how digging a tunnel would have any negative effect on the flora or fauna around (and I can't really see it either.


Mining wastes are always subject to environmental regulations, because they contain metals and radioisotopes. You have to put the rubble you dig up somewhere, and if you just dump it anywhere it's going to leech nasty chemicals.

This is the major reason why things like REE metals productions moved to Asia - less rules and oversight about how to deal with the residues.

This is a case of "see no evil, hear no evil" when it's your own poster boy doing the bad things - meanwhile, if some other corporation were to propose opening a new mine, the picket line would stretch for miles.
Eikka
3 / 5 (2) May 13, 2018
Or things like; it's a tunnel, it's going to get rain water inside and possibly pollute the water table, or again leach dangerous chemicals when the water is pumped out. Environmental concerns may also include things like, what happens if the tunnel destabilizes the ground above it? What happens when seismic waves are deflected and bent when the ground is bored into swiss cheese? Can you create an earthquake lens that causes someone else's property to shake to bits?

Of course for a demo project, all that can be justified because it's a one-off prototype. Nobody knows yet what sort of review shoud be made and what problems can turn up, so it's a learning experience for the reviewers as well.
g_duncan27
not rated yet May 13, 2018
go for it and thanks
Zorcon
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2018
Mining wastes are always subject to environmental regulations, because they contain metals and radioisotopes. You have to put the rubble you dig up somewhere, and if you just dump it anywhere it's going to leech nasty chemicals.


Excavation debris ≠ mining waste. It would probably make excellent roadbase and help offset the need for new gravel pits.

if some other corporation were to propose opening a new mine, the picket line would stretch for miles.


Musk is not proposing a mine.

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