Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Finance | By Gustavo Carr

Chicago taps Musk's firm to build high-speed tunnel to O'Hare

Chicago taps Musk's firm to build high-speed tunnel to O'Hare

Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce The Boring Company's latest product launch, life-size Lego-like interlocking bricks that can be used to create sculptures and buildings. It would utilize a mothballed station under Block 37, the launching spot in the Loop for the line that would be known as the Chicago Express.

The battery-powered skates will be built on a modified Tesla Model X chassis, with a pod that will be climate controlled, have space for luggage and include built-in Wi-Fi. The system will use electric vehicles that run through a 17-mile system of new twin underground tunnels. The mayor pointed out it will take longer to get through security at O'Hare than it will to get there. Opponents say the exemption Boring seeks from a lengthy environmental review of the Los Angeles test tunnel violates state law forbidding such waivers for large-scope projects on a piecemeal basis.

Construction and final deal details between Chicago and The Boring Company still need to be ironed out, but the Tribune reports that the project will cost less than $1 billion. The founder of SpaceX and Tesla did not seem deterred by doubters. After 40 years of incremental innovation in transportation, most of it from outside the U.S., "I'm all for it", he said. The cost of the ride is yet to be determined. The company said the price for riders will be about half that of an Uber or taxi, which are now around $40 per fare. They say that the project will be "100 percent privately funded". It does require city council approval, and there will be public hearings in the months ahead.

If all goes as it should, Rivkin said, construction work could begin next year with actual service in operation around 2022. The Boring Company will have to finance the entire build itself and operate and maintain the express line after it's completed.

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"Mayor Emanuel is prioritizing the interests of billionaires and big corporations ahead of the very real and immediate needs of Chicago's taxpayers and neighborhoods", he said in a statement.

"Nothing is impossible, but all of it is very hard", he said, noting that today's technologies are not up to the job. He put SpaceX together.

Autonomous electric "skates" would carry 8 to 16 people and their luggage, or a single passenger vehicle, through underground tunnels at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour between O'Hare and downtown. A trip would cost $20 to $25. The Boring Company released Wednesday renderings of what the underground system and rail cars would look like.

Musk's flagship electric auto company Tesla Inc. struggled last year to turn an annual profit for the first time in its 15 years of doing business.

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