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Elon Musk unveils Boring Company tunnel


While the Boring Co.’s first tunnel may be complete, it is far from being finished. The surfaces are bumpy and have yet to be smoothed out. As a result, the demonstration ride, for now, is rough and passengers in the Model X definitely feel the alignment wheels bumping into the track walls to keep the SUV on course. Musk has talked repeatedly of boring a series of high-speed loop tunnels in major cities to ease congestion.

In June, the Boring Co. signed a deal with the City of Chicago to develop matching 17-mile, high-speed transit tunnels between the city’s business district and O’Hare Airport. When he announced the deal, Musk envisioned it taking no more than three years to dig the tunnel and breaking ground on the project within three to four months, but more than a half year later, the project has yet to receive approval from government and regulatory groups.

That raises the question of whether the Boring Co. can dig and develop high-speed loop tunnels as quickly as Musk promises.

“I would be surprised to see the tunnel in Chicago happen in the near future,” said Foster Finley, global co-head of the transportation practice for the consulting firm AlixPartners. Finley says engineers come across all kinds of things digging a tunnel including utility lines, aquifers and sorting out property rights. His point: It often takes longer and is costlier than expected to dig a tunnel.

“An elevated train from downtown Chicago to O’Hare would be easier and cheaper to build,” said Finley. Musk disagrees. He says the high-speed loop tunnels are a far better way to solve the traffic jams that regularly snarl traffic. “We think this is a solution that will actually work,” he said.

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