Elon Musk is seeking to ease concerns in an affluent Los Angeles suburb where he wants to build a tunnel

Screenshot via YouTube/The Boring CompanyElon Musk.
  • Elon Musk touted a partnership between the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) and The Boring Company, his tunnel-digging venture.
  • The MTA said in a statement on Thursday night that it would coordinate with The Boring Company on a test tunnel near Sepulveda Boulevard, one of the busiest roads in Los Angeles.
  • It’s all part of The Boring Company’s broader effort to develop a system of tunnels that could create the infrastructure needed for alternative mass transit.

Elon Musk touted a partnership between The Boring Company and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) on plans to build a tunnel concept near one of the busiest thoroughfares in LA.

In a statement posted, the MTA said it would coordinate with The Boring Company on a test tunnel under Sepulveda Boulevard. One of the goals for that partnership is to limit interference with an existing high-speed transit study that’s already underway in the region.

The test tunnel will stretch nearly three miles along Sepulveda on LA’s Westside, one of the most traffic-congested parts of the city. The Boring Company has already built a shorter tunnel in nearby Hawthorne, where SpaceX’s headquarters is located.

That announcement on Thursday night preceded a public event Musk held in the LA suburb of Bel-Air on Thursday night, during which he and Boring Company officials talked about the tunnelling activities and took questions from members of the community. It’s part of Musk’s effort to get city agencies on board with the project, which is already facing some court challenges from two neighbourhood organisations.

Locals have expressed some practical concerns, like whether it is safe to dig beneath a region that’s prone to natural hazards like earthquakes, and whether underground utilities would be affected.

On the question of risks to utility lines, Musk said The Boring Company’s machines are digging below them. “Once you get below 20 or 30 feet … it’s just rock, basically,” Musk said.

The Boring Company’s tunnelling could create the infrastructure needed for new forms of transit, like Hyperloop.

Boring company photoScreenshot

On that note, Musk talked about one transit concept, called Loop, a zero-emissions high-speed transit system that could travel up to 150 mph, and carry passengers from downtown LA to the Los Angeles International Airport in eight minutes.

Fares for Loop could cost as little as $US1 per person, Musk suggested, though the actual cost will likely depend on a number of factors, and require input from multiple local and regional agencies.

“Highways are at the outer limit of their capacity,” Musk said, adding that there are physical limitations to how wide transportation districts can expand a freeway. At the beginning of the event, the billionaire entrepreneur, who also helms Tesla and SpaceX, lamented how congested road traffic is in LA, specifically on Interstate 405, one of the most highly trafficked freeways in the US.

Still, questions about the test-tunnel project largely dominated the meeting on Thursday night. The site of that test tunnel is ensconced in a largely affluent part of the city, where locals are typically averse to projects that might disrupt daily life.

“You won’t hear us, you won’t see us, you won’t feel us. … We’re invisible,” one company executive said.

“We are going to do everything right. We are going to be the best possible community member,” he said.

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