The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority decided this week to choose The Boring Company to develop an underground tunnel loop to shuttle visitors around the Las Vegas Convention Center, which will be 2 miles across when completed. It is the current home of the annual Consumer Electronics Show. The loop would use autonomous shuttle vehicles like the one pictured above. Notice that vehicle says its destination is O’Hare Airport in Chicago. We’ll talk more about that later.
The Boring Company believes it would take about a year to complete the project once the contracts are signed. The parties expect to iron out the details at a meeting scheduled for June. The cost of the loop would be somewhere between $35 and 55 million, according to a report by Engadget.
If the original loop servicing the LVCC is successful, a much longer system covering the downtown area and linking it with McCarran airport could be built in the future, relieving much of the surface street congestion that afflicts Las Vegas at present. But the local taxi industry might have something to say about that. It successfully opposed an extension to the city’s monorail system recently.
Politics could play a major role in whether Musk’s plans to dig tunnels under major world cities ever moves forward. Last June, authorities in Chicago approved a Boring Company plan to build an underground link between downtown and O’Hare airport. That proposal had the full support of then-Mayor Rahm Emmanuel but a February 26 election to find his replacement has resulted in a runoff between candidates who are opposed to the plan.
Prior to the election, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas, the former head of Chicago Public Schools said “I’d kill it. I can’t wait to kill it,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle agreed. “This is definitely something I would put on pause. If we’re going to make investments in transit, I think they should be investments in the CTA and in Metra.” Attorney Lori Lightfoot expressed doubt that the tunnel could be built without public funds.
The Boring Company has said it would pay to build the link using its own money. Preckwinkle and Lightfoot are now embroiled in a contentious runoff election. For the moment, it seems like the link to the airport has been captured by the quagmire known as Chicago politics. Where is Richard Daley when you need him, huh?
A successful project in Las Vegas could be an important “proof of concept” moment for The Boring Company, which has yet to advance much beyond the press releases and promises phase, flame throwers aside. A small success in Nevada could convince other jurisdictions to take underground tunneling seriously and provide a much needed boost to The Boring Company’s plans to disrupt public transportation in the world’s most congested cities.
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