On Monday Jehn Balajadia, the operations chief from Elon Musk’s Boring Company, went before the city council of Culver City (in LA County) to present plans on digging a 6.5 mile tunnel under Culver City and Los Angeles.
The Boring Company presented Culver City with a FAQ that has some interesting details about the tunnel they are looking to build. The assert that “to solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight and won’t fall on your head.” And “a large network of tunnels many levels deep would fix congestion in any city, no matter how large it grew (just keep adding levels). The key to making this work is increasing tunneling speed and dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more – this is the goal of The Boring Company. Fast to dig, low cost tunnels would also make Hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit across densely populated regions, enabling travel from New York to Washington DC in less than 30 minutes.”
Boring Company notes that tunnels are one of the safest places to be during an earthquake “Tunnels, when designed properly, are known to be one of the safest places to be during an earthquake. From a structural safety standpoint, the tunnel moves uniformly with the ground, in contrast to surface structures. Additionally, a large amount of earthquake damage is caused by falling debris, which does not apply inside tunnels.”
In regards to how Boring company tunnels are different than a subway, they explain “the electric skates are faster than conventional subway cars, and are autonomous vehicles. Most importantly, Loop is an “express” public transit system – through the use of a main artery with side tunnels for entry/exit, passengers travel directly to their final destination without stopping. Therefore, unlike trains, the skate’s average speed is very close to its maximum speed.”
And perhaps most importantly, Boring Company emphasizes that “they are privately funded and our individual projects will be privately funded as well.”
It appears that Culver City city council had mixed reactions to the Boring Company’s presentation.
City Manager John Nachbar said (via Wired) that the project “would require significant staff investment” and “a rather monumental effort” referring that the city would likely have to hire consultants. Mayor Jeffrey Cooper said, “I think there’s still so much to vet out and so much technology that’s going to move forward, but we’re a very forward thinking city. I think it would be foolhardy of us to just say no.” Finally, Meghan Sahli-Wells said, “I don’t really trust a private company to watch out for equity because I haven’t seen it happen. It looks super sexy and super easy but it’s half-baked from a public perspective.”
It’s going to be a challenge for the Boring Company to get through local governments like Culver City. And Monday’s presentation was sure to be just one of many before the city council. Oftentimes, the process is drawn out especially due to the many approvals required.
However, once the Boring Company gets more local approvals, this will provide them with evidence and historical precedence for them to use in getting even more local approvals. In other words, the first few approvals from local municipalities will be the most difficult and it will likely get progressively easier. Already the Boring Company is moving faster than most have expected. Elon must really hate LA’s “soul-destroying traffic”.
If you’re wanting a deeper dive on the status of the Boring Company’s tunnel projects, check out the company’s 4-page FAQ report dated Jan 22, 2018. The documents not only details current projects but the entire approach the Boring Company is using.