Elon Musk wins improbably cheap bid to dig a tunnel through Chicago

Gladys Abbott
June 15, 2018

"Neither our mayor, nor Elon Musk, is a patient man, so we expect to start negotiations immediately and construction as soon as possible, and we'll be putting this project online in the near future", Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin said Thursday.

The city of Chicago has chosen The Boring Company to build its next transit project-dubbed "Loop"-which aims to whisk passengers from downtown to O'Hare airport at speeds of 100 miles per hour".

The Boring Company plans to build terminals for its Chicago Express Loop connecting O'Hare airport and downtown Chicago. Yahoo Finance's Stephanie Sy, Dion Rabouin and Ethan Wolff-Mann discuss.

However, the mayor has said it's worth betting on Musk's technology, given no financial risk to the city, and his track record of success with Tesla electric vehicles and SpaceX rockets. The existing above-ground Blue Line trains charge riders about $5 for a 40-45 minute ride. A new station would be built downtown to accommodate this express line.

The transport system Boring has proposed is called Loop, a slower version of the Hyperloop that's designed for shorter distances and doesn't require vacuum conditions.

Electric pods called skates will run on rails under the city, each capable of carrying between 8 and 16 passengers at up to 150 miles per hour (240 km/h). The tunnels may end up belonging to the city, with a long-term lease assigned to Musk's company. The Boring Company plans to charge fares below the [request for proposals] requirement that this premium service should cost less than current taxi and ride-share services. The planned route travels straight northwest from downtown following public way alignments.

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"We're really excited to work with the mayor and the city to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!" the company said on Twitter. Shuttles would leave as frequently as every 30 seconds, and the system would operate 20 hours every day.

Mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman told GeekWire in a tweet that the Boring Company won the bid.

The project is expected to cost around $1 billion, according to two people familiar with the plans. Boring gets exclusive rights to negotiate with the city for the next 12 months.

In Los Angeles, the company had been making a little more headway, receiving permission from the city to build a 2.7-mile proof-of-concept tunnel and station parallel to the 405 freeway. Thus far, the company has received a permit to dig up a parking lot in Washington, DC, and it has received permission from the state of Maryland to build a 10-mile tunnel "beneath a state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway".

One Chicago politician did voice doubts.

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