Boring Company gets Approval: Expanding Tunnels to Las Vegas

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has acquired unanimous approval to expand its system of tunnels under downtown Las Vegas. The expansion will add finishes at landmarks like the Stratosphere and Fremont Street, letting clients hop aboard a Tesla and travel from one city element to the next.

The network of tunnels is supposed to span 29 miles and include 51 stops when ended. However, only 1.7-mile tunnels are functioning beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), depending on what would be a 25-minute walk over the convention camp into a two-minute ride. 

The system utilizes human-controlled Model X and Y automobiles to transport passengers, despite Musk’s previous statements about using sleds to drag cars through the tunnels.

This year’s CES attendees got to try the tunnel beneath the LVCC themselves, and some riders weren’t too impressed. While it was reportedly less congested than walking the convention center floors, riders said they encountered traffic backups in the tunnel, which carries a maximum of 70 cars at one time. The system enchanted about 15,000 to 17,000 passengers every day at CES.

This most recent expansion brings The Boring Company closer to its goal of building a transportation system that transits the most popular destinations in Las Vegas. “Thanks to the whole team at the City of Last Vegas!” The Boring Company wrote on Twitter in reaction to the city’s approval. “Great dialogue today, and TBC is excited to create a convenient, safe, and awesome transportation system in the City.”

Last October, The Boring Company approved to dig beneath the Las Vegas Strip, connecting passengers with different hotels, casinos, and the McCarran International Airport. The Boring Company began searching beneath the hotspots earlier this year.

Steve Hill, President and CEO of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority hopes the tunnel system beneath the Strip will start serving clients in 2023. Hill says the portion linking the LVCC and Resorts World should be operational by the future of this year.

In February 2019, in San Jose, California, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced that he had held talks with The Boring Company regarding a link between San Jose International Airport and Diridon station as an alternative to a traditional rail link had been quoted at $800 million.

As a result, San Jose has released two requests for information: one for the airport/Diridon station route and another that “would run along the Stevens Creek corridor, a busy thoroughfare that connects downtown to Cupertino, about a dozen miles west.”

In February 2021, Miami, Florida mayor Francis X. Suarez revealed that Musk had proposed to dig a two-mile tunnel under the Miami River for $30 million, within a six-month timescale, compared with $1 billion over four years estimated by the local transit authority. The savings would be achieved by eliminating ventilation systems and allowing electric vehicles only.

Also, in February 2021, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority in California approved beginning contract negotiations with TBC to build a nearly 4-mile (6.4 km) tunnel connecting the Ontario airport with the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink train station.

In July 2021, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accepted a proposal from The Boring Company for a tunnel between downtown and the beach, dubbed the “Las Olas Loop.” Other companies had 45 days to submit competitive proposals, but the two bids submitted within the timeframe were disqualified for not meeting the requirements. So as of August 2021, the city is beginning final negotiations with TBC. Mayor Dean Trantalis estimated the total cost of the 5-mile (8.0 km) round-trip tunnel would be between $90 and $100 million, including stations.

In August 2021, a preliminary concept discussion was held with officials of Cameron County on the potential construction of a short tunnel from South Padre Island to Boca Chica Beach in South Texas. The tunnel would be temporary but would pass beneath the Brownsville Ship Channel, so it would need to be pretty deep. The ship channel is dredged to a depth of 13 m (42 ft) at high tide.

In July 2017, Musk announced plans to build a Hyperloop tunnel connecting Washington, DC, and New York City. He initially stated that the project had “verbal government approval,” but government officials disputed this claim, and Musk later clarified that there was no formal approval. A November 2020 article in The New York Times on the state of the technology said that “neither Musk nor his companies are working on hyperloop.”

In March 2018, a route was announced between Washington, DC, and downtown Baltimore, following the Baltimore–Washington Parkway. The proposed tunnel would use the company’s “Loop” concept, carrying passengers or vehicles on electric “skates.”

In April 2019, the Federal Highway Administration published a draft Environmental Assessment for the project. The proposed system would include:

  • Autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs).
  • Main artery tunnels.
  • Loop stations.
  • Ventilation shafts.
  • Four TBM launch shafts.
  • Maintenance terminals for charging and maintenance of AEVs.

The proposed system appeared not to meet essential safety requirements such as the number of emergency exits. However, National Fire Protection Association standards allow alternative solutions if a risk-based assessment demonstrates that they are equivalent or superior to the stated methods, subject to specific approval.

In early 2021, The Boring Company no longer listed the Hyperloop project on its website. A Federal Highway Administration spokesman said that TBC has not indicated that it will further pursue the project.