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Boring Company Plans For LA Tunnel Shifted — Now Metro–Dodger Stadium, Not Underneath 405 Freeway

The Boring Company plan to did a tunnel under the 405 freeway in West LA has come to an end thanks to a lawsuit filed by local residents who objected to the city allowing the project to proceed without a full environmental review.

The Boring Company will still open its first tunnel on December 10 and will still offer free rides to the public the following day (supposedly). What it will not do is proceed with its plan to dig a companion tunnel under the infamous 405 freeway on the west side of Los Angeles. That project had been given approval by the city last April thanks to the granting of a preliminary exemption to California’s often torturous environmental review process.

Such an exemption is allowed for smaller projects. The proposed tunnel was just 12 feet wide — a few inches less than the minimum that would trigger a full environmental review. “The project almost seems tailor-made to shoehorn in,” Juan Matute, a UCLA lecturer in urban planning told the LA Times. “I never in my wildest dreams expected that anyone would propose to use this exemption for this project.”

Boring Company LA

One of the keys to the city council’s action was the representation by the company that the tunnel would not carry passengers and was really a test for SpaceX engineers to calibrate their boring machine. Call it a training exercise, if you will. But then the company did something dumb. It published a map showing a network of  tunnels crisscrossing  the city. The “test tunnel” under the 405 was part of the proposed underground transit system, which is most definitely intended to carry passengers.

The residents of the city’s Westside neighborhood brought suit, claiming the preliminary exemption was illegal under California law. They argued that a full environmental review can’t “be evaded by chopping large projects into smaller pieces that taken individually appear to have no significant environmental impacts.”

The suit never came to trial. Instead, the parties have agreed to what the company characterizes as an “amicable settlement.” As part of that agreement, the plan to dig under the 405 has been cancelled, according to a report by Gizmodo. Here is the statement put out by The Boring Company after the suit was settled.

“The parties (The Boring Company, Brentwood Residents Coalition, Sunset Coalition, and Wendy-Sue Rosen) have amicably settled the matter of Brentwood Residents Coalition et al. v. City of Los Angeles (TBC — The Boring Company). The Boring Company is no longer seeking the development of the Sepulveda test tunnel and instead seeks to construct an operational tunnel at Dodger Stadium.”

So the idea of digging tunnels under LA has not died completely. Instead, the focus has shifted to another project in which as many as 16 people at a time will be whisked at speeds up to 150 mph in electric people pods the 3.6 miles from an existing Metro station to Dodger Stadium. Considering the stadium has a capacity of 56,000 rabid sports fans, it’s hard to see how the Boring Company tunnel will have much of an impact on the viewing experience of the average fan.

But the Wright Brothers’ first flight carried only one passenger and look how that turned out. The problem for mere mortals is that few of us have as clear a vision of the future as Elon Musk does. Check back in 20 years to see how this story ends — assuming LA isn’t beneath the Pacific Ocean by then.

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