Elon Musk's Boring Co wins O'Hare high-speed train bid

17 June, 2018, 04:43 | Author: Regina Lloyd
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His electric vehicle startup, Tesla, outpaces Ford and GM in market capitalization.

The line will be called "The Chicago Express Loop", also known as The X. Pods made by Tesla will travel between 125 - 150 mph, transporting travelers the approximately 16 miles between Block 37 in downtown Chicago to the airport in about 12 minutes.

Elon Musk's Boring Co. got the green light to work on a project connecting downtown Chicago to O'Hare International Airport, its first major city contract. And the mayor's insistence that the design, construction and operation of the project be privately funded makes the idea palatable for Chicago taxpayers.

"The concept of auto elevators on skates add a bunch of engineering challenges, such as reliability and safety of the elevator, loading and unloading times, and the number of dedicated areas in a city you'd need to do this at scale", Constantine Samaras, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told "Forbes" earlier this year.

"Were there doubters when Chicago said we're going to build the first skyscraper in America? Yes". The Chicago Express is a billion dollar project, but the technology is still unproven.

The company and city officials will enter negotiations to bring the Loop transit system to Chicago. The Boring Company released Wednesday renderings of what the underground system and rail cars would look like. Loop's novel underground transportation system must adapt electric transport technology developed at Tesla to subterranean applications. He revived it years later after riding on a bullet train in Shanghai.

Two elements distinguish Musk's vision.

According to the Boring Company's website, its service will cut the journey time to 12 minutes, which would be "three to four times faster than existing transportation systems" that serve the airport. The vertical tires would operate much like tires on a auto. "It's not much of a risk to have a partially-built, essentially cave-in-proof sealed tunnel 30-to-60 feet underground in some portion of the city". What's unique about them is how they'd be created.

The tunnels then would run northwest under Elston Avenue near Goose Island before crossing under the Kennedy Expressway and heading west to O'Hare.

The plan still needs local and federal approvals before construction can begin.

The company plans to collect ticket and advertising revenue, and Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin said the estimated fare will be $20 to $25 per ride, which is significantly less than a taxi ride to or from the airport.

Mayors back as far as Jane Byrne in the early 1980s have dreamed of a super-fast O'Hare connection that would beat the hour or more it can take to drive or take the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line to the airfield.

Some questions: What if Musk starts the project but abandons it? Opponents say the exemption Boring seeks from a lengthy environmental review of the Los Angeles test tunnel violates state law forbidding such waivers for large-scope projects on a piecemeal basis.



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