By Mike Windle/Getty Images.
Not content to build electric cars and shoot reusable rockets into the sky, Elon Musk is also moving forward with an arguably more grandiose idea: subterranean travel. Or, in layman’s terms, tunnels. “Traffic is driving me nuts,” he wrote in December, apparently while stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway. “Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” One thing led to another, and Musk decided to call his new venture—building a tunnel to traverse Los Angeles—the Boring Company. Now, he says, the first part of his first tunnel under Los Angeles is complete.
“No longer waiting for Godot,” he tweeted on Wednesday, referring to the name of his company’s tunnel-digging machine, which Musk says is more powerful than other equivalent technology on the market. “It has begun boring and just completed the first segment of tunnel in LA.” The company’s plan is to start digging in the SpaceX parking lot. Any further into the city of Los Angeles beyond SpaceX property and Musk will require permits from the city. (Last week Musk tweeted that he’d had “promising conversations” with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti about the Boring Company’s tunnels. “Permits harder than technology,” he added.)
There are other challenges, too, beyond the usual regulatory headaches. Musk’s plan to dig a tunnel from under his desk at SpaceX in Hawthorne to “Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway, which is 5 mins from LAX,” would require digging around or under wiring and pipe. Nevertheless, the Boring Company has been making progress. In April, when he launched the company, Musk debuted a concept video showing what an interconnected series of tunnels could eventually look like; a month later, he posted videos showing what the tunnel’s ferry system—which propels cars at speeds of up to 124 miles per hour—could look like.
Tunnel infrastructure, intended to alleviate traffic in Los Angeles, is an idea that could resonate with President Donald Trump, who has said he wants to spend $1 trillion to rebuild U.S. infrastructure. Should Musk attain permits from the city of Los Angeles and continue building beyond SpaceX property, he’d likely hire plenty of construction workers for the job, which would likely also appeal to Trump. (If only the jobs weren’t in deep-blue California.) Perhaps the promise of employing more Americans might be enough to make Trump forget about Musk cutting ties with the administration over the president’s decision to leave the Paris climate accord earlier this month.